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Renaissance 

and 
Reformation 




Renaissance 

et 

Réforme 



# 










New Series, Vol. XV, No. 1 Nouvelle Série, Vol. XV, No 1 

Old Series, Vol. XXVII, No. 1 Ancienne Série, Vol. XXVII, No. 1 
Winter 1991 hiver 



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Winter / hiver 1991 (date of issue: February 1992) 

Publication Mail Registration No. 5448 ISSN 0034-^29X 



Renaissance Renaissance 

and et 

Reformation Réforme 



New Series, Vol. XV, No. 1 Nouvelle Série, Vol. XV, No. 1 

Old Series, Vol. XXVII, No. 1 1991 Ancienne Série, Vol. XXVII, No. 1 



CONTENTS / SOMMAIRE 



ARTICLES 

1 
Courtiers of Beauteous Freedom: Antony and Cleopatra in its Time 

by Paul Yachnin 

21 

Marguerite Reads Giovanni: Gender and Narration in the 

Heptaméron and the Decameron 

by Elizabeth C. Wright 

37 

Guillaume Budé à son médecin, un inédit sur sa maladie 

par Guy Lavoie 

57 

Dissolution and the Making of the English Literary Canon: 

The Catalogues of Leland and Bale 

by Trevor Ross 

BOOK REVIEWS / COMPTES RENDUS 

81 

John A. Marino. Pastoral Economics in the Kingdom of Naples 

reviewed by Carola M. Small 

84 

Carter A. Daniel, ed. The Plays of John Lyly 

reviewed by J. Michael Richardson 



86 

Robert Aulotte. Montaigne: Essais 

recensé par Jean Larmat 

90 

Margaret Loftus Ranald. Shakespeare and His Social Context: Essays in 

Osmotic Knowledge and Literary Interpretation 

reviewed by Barry Thorne 

92 

Claude V. Palisca. Humanism in Italian Renaissance Musical Thought 

reviewed by Maria Rika Maniâtes 

95 

Hilary Gatti. The Renaissance Drama of Knowledge: 

Giordano Bruno in England 

reviewed by Germaine Warkentin 

98 

David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber. Tuscans and Their Families: 

A study of the Florentine Catasto of 1427. 

reviewed by Daniel Bornstein 



"Courtiers of Beauteous Freedom": Antony 
and Cleopatra in its Time 



PAUL YACHNIN 



In terms of the political culture of the early Stuart period, Antony and 
Cleopatra's account of the shift from the magnificent but senescent Egyptian 
past to the pragmatic but successful Roman future can be seen as a critical 
register of the symbolic constructions and political ramifications of the shift 
from the Elizabethan to the Jacobean style of rule. In this paper, I want to 
suggest that the meanings of the play in 1606-1607 were on the whole more 
political and certainly more topical than they are now. To locate Antony and 
Cleopatra in the linguistic, symbolic, and literary fields which comprised 
the context for the play's first audiences will require a survey of a broad 
range of texts — some literary, some political, some constructed as triumphal 
arches in the streets of London. In such terms, Antony and Cleopatra 
emerges as both contribution to and critique of the emerging Jacobean 
political culture. I want to argue, then, that the Jacobean Antony and 
Cleopatra possessed a level of political meaning which the twentieth-cen- 
tury Antony and Cleopatra does not possess. This does not mean that the 
modern play is in any sense poorer than its seventeenth-century counterpart. 
Probably we appreciate the play's metatheatricality more than the first 
audience did;' possibly we respond more seriously to the play's interest in 
gender and power.^ Accordingly, the Jacobean Antony and Cleopatra — the 
play I will try to recreate in some measure — cannot claim to be better than 
our Antony and Cleopatra; it can only claim to be different. Taking the 
measure of that difference is the principal purpose of this essay. 

The contextualization of Antony and Cleopatra will reveal the politicized 
resonances of the play's language, characterization, and handling of sources. 
Contextualization suggests that Shakespeare's poetic styles are themselves 
politically meaningful. Pompey's gorgeous phrase, "courtiers of beauteous 
freedom," so long as it is interpreted without reference to the political 
connotations of Jacobean language, can be little more than gorgeous (and a 



Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVI, 1 (1991) 1 



2 / Renaissance and Reformation 

little puzzling: what have courtiers to do with freedom?); however the phrase 
can be recast in an historicized linguistic field in order to clarify both the 
connotative range of each word and the relationship between the words. 

"Courtiers of beauteous freedom" is the crowning phrase in Pompey's 
verbal attack on the triumvirate. Pompey denigrates his enemies by opposing 
the mercantile and political present (Antony, Caesar, and Lepidus are 
"senators" and "factors"; Julius Caesar's ghost saw them "laboring" at 
Philippi) to the aristocratic and chivalric past ("all-honor' d, honest" Brutus, 
Cassius, and the "armed rest" were "courtiers" who, when moved "to con- 
spire" by their dedication to freedom, "drenched" the Capitol with Caesar's 
blood — so that even the assassination was performed with characteristic 
aristocratic largess). Pompey conceives the moment of his opposition to the 
triumvirate as historically decisive: either he, as agent of the heroic past, will 
revive aristocratic values or the triumvirate, the "senators alone of this great 
world," will succeed in consolidating the new political culture and so enforce 
the decline of true Roman values: 

To you all three. 

The senators alone of this great world, 
Chief factors for the gods, I do not know 
Wherefore my father should revengers want, 
Having a son and friends, since Julius Caesar, 
Who at Philippi the good Brutus ghosted. 
There saw you laboring for him. What was't 
The mov'd pale Cassius to conspire? And what 
Made the all-honor'd, honest, Roman Brutus, 
With the arm'd rest, courtiers of beauteous freedom. 
To drench the Capitol, but that they would 
Have one man but a man? And that is it 
Hath made me rig my navy, at whose burden 
The anger'd ocean foams, with which I meant 
To scourge th' ingratitude that despiteful Rome 
Cast on my noble father. 

(II.vi.8-23)3 

Pompey's rhetorical opposition of past to present and of an aristocratic, 
chivalric ethos to a mercantile, political ethos adumbrates the ideational 
framework of the play; in terms of the overall design, Antony and Cleopatra 
belong to the aristocratic, chivalric, magnificent past whereas Caesar repre- 
sents the mercantile, political, pragmatic present. In the world of the play, the 
magnificent past persists only in Egypt, the exotic backwater of the empire. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 3 

"Courtiers of beauteous freedom" helps to situate this opposition in its 
historical moment of the play itself since it intimates a parallel between the 
chivalric and heroic past on the one hand and the Court of the late Queen on 
the other. Just as Elizabeth presided over her splendid courtiers, so 
"freedom" — "libertas" — was the beauteous queen of the freedom-loving 
Roman courtiers. Pompey's evocation of the golden past summons the 
Elizabethan Court out of the shadows in order to lend weight to his argument; 
and in its turn, the political subtext of the play appropriates Pompey's 
opposition of Roman past and Roman present to its treatment of the relation- 
ship between the Elizabethan past and the Jacobean present. The play's 
evocation of lost magnificence suggests its nostalgic fealty to the past; 
however, the play also registers a pragmatic acceptance of the present. The 
same is true of Pompey's speech: pale Cassius and Roman Brutus are more 
attractive than the triumvirate, and "courtiers" are more appealing than 
"factors" — even "factors for the gods" — but Pompey's position is not per- 
suasive since he is driven by futile self-promotion rather than by a desire for 
justice. Even with respect to individual words, the text imposes questions and 
qualifications concerning Pompey's rhetorical position. "Courtier," for ex- 
ample, is a word usually tainted by courtiers' proverbial preciosity and 
sycophancy (this seems to have been so in spite of the popularity of Hoby's 
Castiglione). English writers tend to handle the word gingerly and for satiric 
effect: Spenser, for one, does not use it at all (in any form) in Faerie Queene 
(although it appears seven times in the satirical and topical "Mother Hubberds 
Tale." For Donne, "courtier" is virtually synonymous with venality: 

He which did lay 
Rules to make Courtiers, (hee being understood 
May make good Courtiers, but who Courtiers good?)"* 

Hotspur's "popinjay," Osric ("Dost know this water-fly?"), and the dis- 
guised Autolycus represent Shakespeare's normal sense of the thing itself. 
Autolycus, furthermore, provides an example of Shakespeare's sense of the 
word's inescapable ironic tonality: 

Whether it like me or no, I am a courtier. 
Seest thou not the air of the court in these 
enfoldings? Hath not my gait in it the measure 
of the court? Receives not thy nose court-odor 
from me? Reflect I not on thy baseness court-contempt? 
{Winter's Tale, IV, iv 733-737) 



4 / Renaissance and Reformation 

The unironic sense of the word can be recovered only by insistence on the 
courtly ideal (Spenser achieves this at one point in "Mother Hubberds Tale"),^ 
but some irony tends to inhere nonetheless. Pompey attempts to purify 
"courtiers" by projecting the word back into the golden past when gallants 
worshipped Freedom rather than Vanity; however the text enforces an ironic 
undercurrent both by collocating "courtiers" with the "poetical" word 
"beauteous" (OED) and by virtue of Pompey ' s own folly and self-destructive 
submission to the antiquated discourse of "honour" (see II.vii.62-85) 

The word "freedom" also is politicized within the context of the phrase 
"courtiers of beauteous freedom." In the first place, "freedom" acquires the 
sense of "being free and noble; nobility, generosity, liberality" (0ED,3) in 
addition to its primary meaning, "exemption or release from slavery" 
(0ED,1). That is, "freedom" has in this phrase an aristocratic resonance in 
addition to its primary meaning, "Freedom's" multivalent significance 
mediates between the aristocratic past (in which noble rank is signalled by 
conspicuously unconstrained, or "free", expenditure), and the mercantile 
present (in which the freedom of the individual is an attribute of contractual 
political relations).^ Specifically, as I have already suggested, "freedom" is 
feminized, invested with a courtly ethos, and even enthroned (by virtue of 
having courtiers); projected, that is, into the symbolic matrix of the 
Elizabethan court. 

Pompey 's ideas about past and present belong and have reference to the 
imaginative world within the play, but the words and images which he uses 
to express those ideas embody particular political biases and references which 
have immediate and unavoidable pertinence to England in 1606-1607. The 
ghost of the magnificent Queen Elizabeth shadows Pompey 's speech, lending 
strength to his rhetorical attack on the triumvirate; however, as a consequence, 
Pompey' s speech constitutes a reflection upon the perceived shift from 
Elizabethan magnificence to Jacobean "measure." 

n 

Recent historical and literary research has made us increasingly aware of two 
movements in early seventeenth-century political culture which constitute 
important contexts for Antony and Cleopatra. One concerns the nostalgia for 
Elizabethan Protestant militancy which appeared early in James's reign, 
specifically in response to the peace James concluded with Spain in 1604.^ 
The other comprises James's own formulation of an innovative "Roman 
style" of rule.^ James's revival of the Augustan ideal constituted a "symbolics 



Renaissance et Réforme / 5 

of power" which shaped the public displays of his peace-making and his plans 
to unify Scotland and England. A third element consists of two plays which 
connect Cleopatra with Queen Elizabeth — one by Fulke Greville and another 
by Samuel Daniel (the first we know only be Greville' s own report; the second 
is extant and was probably known to Shakespeare).^ 

Emrys Jones has observed that Antony and Cleopatra's emphasis on 
Octavius — later Augustus — Caesar's role as peacemaker, and its cloaked, and 
apparently slighting, allusions to Queen Elizabeth, make the play a somewhat 
sycophantic tribute to King James: 

... the play is an imperial work in a special sense; it was written by the leading 
dramatist of the King's Men, whose patron was James I, the "Emperor" of 
Great Britain. Although no records survive of the early performances of 
Antony and Cleopatra, it is hard to resist the notion that this most courtly of 
Shakespeare's tragedies must have been performed at James's court. 
James was England's, or rather "Britain's", own modern Augustus, for 
whom Caesar's lines in the play — 

The time of universal peace is near. 

Prove this a prosperous day, the three-nooked world 

Shall bear the olive freely — 
IV.6.5-7 
would have had a special significance: James was himself an imperial, 
quasi-Augustan, peacemaker. So the British also, one supposes, have 
relished the allusions to his predecessor Elizabeth in Cleopatra's scenes with 
the Messenger — for Elizabeth in Cleopatra's had questioned her ambassador 
about Mary Stuart in a remarkably similar way.)^^ 

Jones would agree that the Jacobean Antony and Cleopatra possessed a 
political significance which was lost soon after its initial performances, but 
he would say that this meaning is an excrescence, an unfortunate product of 
the need to flatter the King, and hence an aspect of the play we are better off 
without, indeed an aspect the play is better off without. "Fortunately for us," 
Jones comments, "the play transcends the circumstances of its composi- 
tion."^^ While I agree with Jones about the presence of a political level of 
meaning in the Jacobean Antony and Cleopatra, I want to disagree with his 
devaluation of its importance to the design of the play. I want to suggest that 
it is not an excrescence, but an integral part of the play's meaning; and that 
it is not essentially court flattery directed at King James, but a representation 
of contemporary politics directed towards a diverse audience. This, I think, 
is the crucial point to be made about the play's topicality. After that point has 
been made, I would certainly agree with Jones that Shakespeare would not 



6 / Renaissance and Reformation 

have been unhappy if, in addition to the theatre audience, King James also 
had found the play gratifying. 

I want to adjust Jones's assessment of the Jacobean meanings of Antony 
and Cleopatra by pursuing two lines of argument, one pertaining to the 
"politics" of the Jacobean theatre and another concerning the relationship 
between Shakespeare's play and the broad range of texts representative of 
both Jacobean popular nostalgia for Elizabethan magnificence and Jacobean 
government attempts to develop an original and effective symbolics of power. 
In general, the politics of the stage were shaped by the conflicting demands 
of commercialism and censorship. The heterogeneous audience and the 
tradition of the drama's engagement with political and social issues help make 
sense of the topical meaning of a play like Antony and Cleopatra}^ Were 
Emrys Jones right about the bias of Shakespeare's topicality, that is, were it 
true that the play was intended primarily to flatter King James by paralleling 
him to Octavius Caesar, we might expect to find a more consistently attractive 
portrait of the future emperor. Instead we find a complex figure whom most 
critics find — to quote A. P. Riemer — "unattractive, perhaps sinister";*^ and 
yet a figure whom, as actors such as Keith Baxter and Jonathan Pryce have 
shown, can be played sympathetically, even as a hero.''^ Such opposite 
reading of the character of Octavius show how effectively Shakespeare has 
contrived to leave unanswered the central questions about Octavius' motiva- 
tions and morals. To a degree, Shakespeare has surrendered the production 
of meaning to his audiences: royalist members of the audience — perhaps even 
a royal audience — are empowered by the text to focus on Octavius' peace- 
making; members of the audience disenchanted with the King or nostalgic 
for an earlier reign can emphasize Octavius' machiavellian pursuit of power. 
Subtle shifts in the actor's presentation of the character will tend to foreground 
one or the other interpretation so that the play can be adapted for different 
audiences. The interpretive openness of the characterization of Octavius 
dovetails with the requirements of a play which was to be performable both 
at the Globe and at Whitehall. The conditions of production, in short, helped 
determine the characteristic "balance" (or, more accurately, two-facedness) 
of Shakespeare's handling of Octavius. 

The necessity of writing for different audiences and the pressures of 
censorship constitute the extrinsic causes of the balance and complexity of 
Shakespeare's treatment of politics, both Roman and Jacobean. Of course, 
extrinsic factors are not sufficient in themselves to bring about a balanced 
view of politics (as the nostalgic works of Dekker, Heywood, and Chapman 
make clear); however, insofar as the pressures of commercialism and censor- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 7 

ship provide the ground for Shakespeare's penetrating critique of the histori- 
cal competition between opposing symbolics of power, they should be seen 
as liberating rather than as constraining. 

That Antony and Cleopatra can bear comparison with plays explicitly 
concerned with the memory of Elizabeth has been established by Geoffrey 
Bullough, Helen Morris, Kenneth Muir, and Keith RinehartJ-^ The proposed 
parallels between the Queen of Egypt and the Queen of England have become 
familiar to students of the play and have been widely accepted, if only because 
the claims made for their importance to the play have been so modest. The 
argument runs something like this: details in the characterization of Cleopatra 
such as her militancy, her likening herself to a milk-maid (Elizabeth had done 
likewise in a speech before Parliament), her fiery temper, her fondness for 
travel in a river-barge, her wit, her immense charm, (all prominent aspects in 
contemporary accounts of Elizabeth) reveal a characteristically Elizabethan 
handling of classical source-material. It is as if Shakespeare had used what 
he knew about Elizabeth in order to work towards an understanding of 
Cleopatra. 

All this is true enough, but we must go further. At the moment of creation 
and reception, the meaning of the products of imagination is determined 
largely by political, literary, and linguistic context, and by audience and 
authorial expectations and modes of understanding attendant upon context. 
In other words, recollections of Elizabeth in Antony and Cleopatra must take 
on a particular coloration during the reign of her successor. Recollections of 
Elizabeth must mean something. 

The meaning of these recollections of Elizabeth in Antony and Cleopatra 
can be elucidated by measuring them against Jacobean nostalgia for "Good 
Queen Bess's Golden Days." According to Anne Barton, nostalgia for the late 
Queen appeared very soon after James came to the throne of England: there 
are indications of it in Chapman's Bussy DAmbois (1604); as well as 
full-scale tributes to the Queen in Heywood's If You Know Not Me (1604), 
and Dekker's Whore of Babylon (1606).^^ There is, of course, no surprise in 
the fact that, once a king is dead, his people often wish him back again, even 
though they hated him while he was living. It seems to be the very nature of 
the populace to lackey the varying tide of events, and the very nature of rulers 
to become deared only by being lacked. Shakespeare's contemporary. Bishop 
Godfrey Goodman, explained the Jacobean revival of Elizabeth's memory in 
similar terms: 



8 / Renaissance and Reformation 

... in effect the people were very generally weary of an old woman's 
government. . . . But after a few years, when we had experience of the Scottish 
government, then in disparagement of the Scots, and in hate and detestation 
of them, the Queen did seem to revive; then was her memory much mag- 
nified, — such ringing of bells, such public joy and sermons in commemora- 
tion of her, the picture of her tomb painted in many churches, and in effect 
more solemnity and joy in memory of her coronation than was for the coming 
in of King James. '^ 

Late in James's reign and largely in response to the Kings' "appeasement" 
of Catholic Spain, recollections of Elizabeth became weapons in the hands of 
Protestant propagandists like Thomas Scot; and nostalgia even figured in the 
plays which both expressed and promoted popular dissatisfaction with 
English non-involvement in the Continental wars — plays such as Massinger's 
Maid of Honour (1621) and Drue's Duchess of Suffolk (1624). This propagan- 
distic nostalgia belongs both to the last years of James's reign and to the early 
Caroline period; however, several early instances do seem politically pur- 
poseful, and one of these in particular (Samuel Daniel's Cleopatra) is relevant 
to the present discussion. 

When Daniel revised his play early in James's reign, he added a new first 
scene patently intended to express his unhappiness with the 1604 cessation 
of hostilities against Spain. Daniel's Cleopatra becomes in this scene a 
despairing mater patriae, to whom her son, Caesario, holds out hope of their 
ultimate victory over Roman hegemony. Cleopatra irresistibly evokes the 
memory of the militantly anti-Catholic Queen of England. Caesario's speech 
is transparent political allegory in which ancient Rome stands for the Spanish- 
Catholic domination of Europe and the Roman Provinces stand for the 
besieged Protestant Provinces of the Netherlands: 

Deare soveraigne mother, suffer not your care 

To tumult thus with th'honor of your state: 

These miseries of our no strangers are. 

Nor is it new to be unfortunate. 

And this good, let your many sorrows past 

Worke on your heart t'inharden it at last. 

Looke but on all the neighbour States beside, 

Of Europe, Afrique, Asia and but note 

What Kings? what States? hath not the Roman pride 

Ransackt, confounded, or els servile brought? 

And since we are so borne that by our fate. 

Against these storms we cannot now bear saile, 



Renaissance et Réforme / 9 

And that the boisterous current of their state 
Will beare down all our fortunes, and prevaile: 
Let us yet temper with the time: and thinke 
The windes may change, and all these States opprest, 
Colleagu'd in one, may turne again to sincke 
Their Greatnesse, who now holds them all distrest 
And I may lead their troupes, and at the walles 
Of greedie Rome, revenge the wronged blood 
And doe th'inthralled Provinces this good. 
And therefore my deare mother doe not leave 
hope the best. I doubt not my returne.^^ 

It might seem as if Daniel though any vehicle would serve to bear his 
anti-Catholic message, but in allegorizing Cleopatra he was in fact following 
the example of his friend Fulke Greville. According to his own account, 
Greville wrote and then destroyed an Antony-and-Cleopatra play because he 
feared it might be construed as a criticism of Elizabeth's destruction of her 
own great general — the Earl of Essex. Greville sacrificed his manuscript to 
the fire, he says, because he thought it might be "strained to a personating of 
vices in the present Governors, and government. . . . And again in the practice 
of the world, seeing the like instance not poetically, but really fashioned in 
the Earle of Essex then falling; and ever till then worthily beloved, both of 
the Queen, and people ... "'^ There is, of course, no reason to think that 
Shakespeare knew Greville's play. But Shakespeare certainly knew, and was 
influenced by, the 1594 version of Cleopatra. Some scholars think that 
Daniel's 1607 version was in turn influenced by a production of Antony and 
Cleopatra; others disagree. ■^^ Such precise questions of literary indebtedness 
will probably remain unanswered. The crucial point to be made, however, is 
that London was a tightly-knit literary community, and that men like 
Shakespeare and Daniel were likely to be interested to see what each had done 
with the same material. 

The literary connexion between Cleopatra and Elizabeth is complimented 
by James's self-representation as Caesar Augustus. ^^ James's coronation 
medal was inscribed: "lAC : I : BRIT : CAE : AVG : HAE CAESARUM 
CAE. D. D." ("James I, Caesar Augustus of Britain, Caesar the heir of the 
Caesars").^^ Panegyric poems on the occasions of James's accession to the 
English throne introduced an imperial motif: and royal encomium became 
explicitly Augustan when Jonson undertook to lionize the King in the 1604 
royal entry. ^^ Here, in the streets of London on March 15, 1604, and in the 
most elaborate and costly procession of the age, Jonson's Temple Bar Arch 



10 / Renaissance and Reformation 

(the last of seven) and his panegyric of welcome in The Strand heralded the 
King as the new Augustus. A fourfaced head of Janus crowned the Arch; at 
James's approach, the gates closed on Janus, signifying the peculiarly Augus- 
tan peace-making attendant upon the onset of James's reign. On the gates was 
written: "IMP. lACOBVS MAX. CAESAR AVG. P.P." ("Emperor James 
the Great, Caesar Augustus, Father of the Country").-^"* In The Strand the 
figure of Electra reiterated the comparison: 

Let ignorance know, great king, this day is thine, 
And doth admit no night; but all doe shine 
As well nocturnall, as diurnall fires. 
To adde unto the flame of our desires. 
Which are (now thou hast closd up Janus gates, 
And giv'n so generall peace to all estates) 
That no offensive mist, or cloudie staine 
May mixe with splendor of thy golden raigne; 

This from that loud, blest Oracle, I sing. 

Who here, and first pronounc'd, thee Britlt]aines king. 

Lx)ng maist thou live, and see me thus appeare. 

As omenous a comet, from my spheare. 

Unto thy raigne; as that did auspicate 

lasting glory to Augustus state.^^ 

The Augustan image-making associated both with James's peace-making 
and with his plans to unite England and Scotland, the parallels between 
Elizabeth and Shakespeare's and Daniel's Cleopatra, and the increasing 
tendency to draw invidious comparisons between the late Queen and King 
James constitute the political-literary context of Antony and Cleopatra. 
Shakespeare organizes this complex material according to an idea of a Fall. 
The originary period is figured as golden, but only from the postlapsarian 
point of view; such a relationship suggests that the golden age is a product of 
the iron age's imaginative formulation of its own etiology. That is, 
Shakespeare understands that nostalgia for the golden past is normally a secret 
legitimation of the present. Understanding this allows Antony and Cleopatra 
to retain the late-Elizabethan critical view of the Queen within its own 
nostalgic evocation of the Elizabethan era. 

The extraordinary style of Elizabeth's rule is appreciatively evoked in 
Antony and Cleopatra', moreover the regret which attends the play's rejection 
of Elizabethan style is not feigned but rather is assimilated in the play's 
qualified endorsation of the present. Cleopatra shares Elizabeth's mag- 



Renaissance et Réforme /Il 

nificence, her showiness, her ability to "caress" the people and "make them 
good cheer" — to use the words of the Venetian ambassador.^^ Shakespeare's 
Cleopatra, furthermore, evokes Elizabeth's militancy (and as Helen Morris 
has pointed out, this trait is without warrant in Plutarch):-^ 

Sink Rome, and their tongues rot 
That speak against us! A charge we bear i' th' war. 
And, as the president of my kingdom, will 
Appear there for a man. 

(lII.vii.15-18) 

However, whereas Cleopatra's "public body" is figured in terms of mag- 
nificence (an attribute which Spenser had identified as the perfection of all 
the virtues),^^ her private body is lapped in luxuria and vanitas. Her queenly 
pleasure at her people's devotion (again the Venetian ambassador's words 
about Elizabeth)^'^ is an expression both of her vanity and of the public, 
"corporate," joy a ruler properly feels at the happy order of her common- 
wealth. That is, the characterization of Cleopatra forces into the open the 
contradictions attendant upon female rule in a patriarchal society .-^^ Cleopatra 
upon the river of Cydnus, enthroned in the market-place ("in chairs of gold . . . 
In th' habiliments of the goddess Isis" [Ill.vi. 4,17]), "levying/ The kings o' 
th' earth for war" (Ill.vi. 68-69) is at once an evocation both of England's 
great and "popular" Queen and of the demonized archetype of female rule — 
the Whore of Babylon. Shakespeare has incorporated in on character the 
fiercely contradictory aspects of Elizabeth's rule, aspects which Spenser had 
been able to keep separate — had been compelled to keep separate — in pairs 
of opposing characters such as Lucifera and the Faerie Queene, Malecasta 
and Britomart, Radigund and Britomart. As an unfolding of the contradiction 
attendant upon the Elizabethan symbolics of power, Shakespeare's Cleopatra 
is a repudiation of female rule, a demonstration of its volatility and inefficacy . 
While Cleopatra's splendid showy victory over Octavius encourages the 
audience's admiration, it nonetheless leaves the loser master of the world. In 
the wake of her suicidal leap towards the divine, the world, newly settled in 
the Pax Augusta, can graciously acknowledge — and dismiss — her now dis- 
armed charisma: "she looks like sleep,/ As she would catch another Antony 
/ In her strong toil of grace" (V.ii. 345-7). Cleopatra has been transformed into 
a monument; the world can return to business. 

Antony and Cleopatra's repudiation of Elizabethan style would seem to 
make the play — as Emrys Jones has suggested — a tribute to King James, 
Elizabeth's successor and himself the engineer of the Pax Britannica. How- 



12 / Renaissance and Reformation 

ever Octavius' pacification of the "three-nook 'd world" precipitates a fall into 
the mercantile (as opposed to the aristocratic). Augustan rule will not be 
"royal"; on the contrary, it will be a factor's peace under the shroud of "the 
unive'-sai landlord." Even on the eve of battle, Caesar parsimoniously adheres 
to the principle of "measure" — "And feast the army; we have store to 
do't,/And they have earn'd the waste" (IV.i. 16-17). By yoking the Augustan 
ideal to mercantilism, Shakespeare is able to produce a subtle critique of 
Jonson's figuration of James as Caesar. Further, Shakespeare's refiguration 
of the Augustan symbolics of power includes James's well-known anti- 
popularism: both Octavius and James are contemptuous of their people (this 
trait in Octavius has little warrant in Plutarch; rather it seems to derive from 
James): 

He does not caress the people nor make them that good cheer the late Queen 
did, whereby she won their loves: for the English adore their Sovereigns, and 
if the King passed through the same street a hundred times a day the people 
would still run to see him; they like their King to show pleasure at their 
devotion, as the late Queen knew well how to do; but his King manifests no 
taste for them but rather contempt and dislike.^' 

Octavius' conquest is necessary since it brings peace and since it is destined 
(in the real-life world, Elizabeth is dead, James is King) — 

Be you not troubled with the time, which drives 
O'er your content these strong necessities, 
But let determin'd things to destiny 
Hold unbewail'd their way. 

(III.vi.84-87) 

However manifest Octavius' destiny might or might not be (note the 
Virgilian exigency is his words to his sister [see Aeneid, IV.331-61]), the 
play's emotional endorsation of its own movement towards Augustan rule 
remains burdened by Caesar's mercenary coldness. Both Octavius' and 
James's special failing as rulers lies in their perverse response to public 
celebration: they fail to give assent to the sense of joyful community which 
had flourished — or which was beginning to seem to have flourished — under 
Elizabeth. ^^ For this reason, Octavius' ideal version of a triumphal entry is 
not celebratory but rather perverted and even sadistic: 

The wife of Antony 
Should have an army for an usher, and 



Renaissance et Réforme / 13 

The neighs of horse to tell of her approach 
Long ere she did appear. The trees by th'way 
Should have borne men, and expectation fainted, 
Longing for what it had not. Nay, the dust 
Should have ascended to the roof of heaven, 
Rais'd by your populous troops. 
(in.vi.43-50) 

Antony and Cleopatra then, considered in its context, may be seen to 
comprehend the full range of comtemporary response to the shift from 
Elizabethan to Jacobean rule, from Daniel's disappointment and hostility to 
Jonson's reverential approval. The play's range of response represents the 
fullest possible treatment of the complex state of political culture in 1606- 
1607. The reiterated off-stage immanence of the nativity of Christ lends 
positive value to Octavius' peace-making, however suspect it might be on its 
own account,^^ and Cleopatra's engaging magnificence is tempered by our 
knowledge of her vanity and her failure. Antony and Cleopatra's endorsation 
of Jacobean imperial rule is shadowed by the emerging myth of the militant 
Protestant Queen, a formulation of feminized and millenarian power which 
would harass James throughout his reign. ^^ 

m 

The language of Antony and Cleopatra resonates most clearly in the linguistic 
milieu of the early seventeenth century. Thus the word "business" in 
Octavius' truncated eulogy for Antony (V.i.50) seals the demise of Roman — 
and Elizabethan — chivalry, signalling by its degraded status the ascendency 
of the new "political" style of rule.^^ However, the play's language has special 
attachments with culturally privileged texts such as the Bible, Horace, Virgil, 
and Spenser. These connexions, especially those with the Book of Revelations 
and with the style of the Augustan poets, contribute importantly to 
Shakespeare's contrasting treatment of Elizabethan and Jacobean rule. 

To put the matter in broad terms, the poetic framework of Antony and 
Cleopatra consists in an opposition between Augustan style and apocalyptic 
allusion.^^ This stylistic opposition subsumes the ethical opposition (as 
adumbrated in Pompey's speech) between new, "political," mercantile (as- 
sociated with the Jacobean reign) and old, chivalric, aristocratic (that is, as it 
was in "good Queen Bess's golden days"). This opposition between Augustan 
and apocalyptic, moreover, crystallizes in a peculiarly literary way the com- 
peting claims of two distinct systems of propagandistic symbolism. Jacobean 



14 / Renaissance and Reformation 

royal propaganda, as it emerged in 1604, was this-worldly and "civic," 
coloured by the Jonson's recollections of the pacific achievements of Caesar 
Augustus. Elizabethan propaganda, in contrast, as developed by Bale, Foxe, 
Spenser, and others, was other-worldly and cosmic — indeed the apocalyptic 
myth of the Elect Nation and the myth of Elizabeth were of a piece. -^^ The 
propagandistic contexts of the two monarchs were opposed: James's was 
largely classical, Elizabeth's mostly biblical.-'^ In its own struggle between 
classical and biblical modes of expression, Antony and Cleopatra registers 
and critiques this competition between the politicized allusive fields as- 
sociated with Elizabeth and James. 

Augustan style is characterized by weight and authority; it is forthright, 
decorous, regular, and balanced; each phrase and each syllable is "wrought 
in season" (Jonson's phrase).^^ Poetry of this kind is urbane rather than 
metaphysical; it deals with what can be known and expressed, and does not 
attempt to utter what Carew called (in praising Donne's poetry) "the deepe 
knowledge of darke truths.'"^^ Urbanity and balance distinguish much of the 
verse in Antony and Cleopatra. In the play's first speech, for example, words 
and phrases are doubled and even trebled in order to lend the verse sentence 
the weight and authority characteristic of Augustan poetry: 

Those his goodly eyes, 
That o'er the files and musters of the war 
Have glow'd like plated Mars, now bend, now turn 
The office and devotion of their view 
Upon a tawny front. 

(I.i.2-6)'*' 

At its best, the play's Augustan verse is expressive of the exigencies of 
power (as in Antony's "strong necessity of time" speech [I.iii.41-56]); at its 
worst, it remains business-like even if self-important (as in Octavius' first 
speech [I.iv.1-10]). In every instance, it is realistic and this-worldly; and in 
this respect it is differentiated from the series of allusions to Revelations. 

The allusions to Revelations, first noted by Ethel Seaton, introduce the 
possibility of a transcendent level of being into the materialist world of the 
play."^^ In general terms, the possibility of transcendence can be taken two 
ways — either as an indication of the fundamental and undermining limitations 
of Antony and Cleopatra or as a sign of their nascent spiritual superiority over 
a pagan world."*^ In terms of the topicality of the play, however, the pertinence 
of Revelations becomes clear once we understand the millenarian cast of most 
Elizabethan propaganda (indeed Dekker's Whore of Babylon — which 



Renaissance et Réforme / 15 

portrays the godly struggle of Elizabeth and her English against the Spanish 
Antichrist — was produced in 1606, that is within a year of Antony and 
Cleopatra). 

The allusions to Revelations are excessive in form as well as in content. 
Antony's first two lines in the play contain the first such allusion; they are 
hypermetrical and breathless, and are set off against Cleopatra's curt pen- 
tameters: 

CLEOPATRA 

If it be love indeed, tell me how much. 
ANTONY 

There's beggary in the love that can be reckon'd. 
CLEOPATRA 

I'll set a bourn how far to be belov'd. 
ANTONY 

Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth. 
(I.i.14-17) 

Antony and Cleopatra on the one hand and Octavius Caesar on the other 
compete for advantage in the play's intertextual arena. Both the lovers and 
the emperor-to-be attempt to claim the protagonist's role in a struggle whose 
principal lineaments derive from Revelations. Most of the biblical references 
belong to one or the other lover: Antony wishes to find "new heaven, new 
earth" in order to define his and Cleopatra's extraordinary romance; when 
Antony is discovered on his sword, his soldiers echo an apocalyptic lament — 

SECOND GUARD 

The star is fall'n. 

FIRST GUARD 

And time is at his period. 

ALL 

Alas, and woe! 

(IV.xiv.l06-107)4'* 

And when Cleopatra remembers Antony ("His legs bestrid the ocean, his 
rear'd arm / Crested the world" [V.ii. 81-91]), he assumes the proportions of 
an Angel of the Apocalypse — 

And I sawe another mightie Angel come downe from heaven, clothed with 
a cloude, and the rainebowe upon his head, & his face was as the sunne, and 
his feete as piliers of fyre. And he had in his hand a litle boke open, and he 
put his right fote upon the sea, and his left on the earth. And cryed with a 



16 / Renaissance and Reformation 

lowde voyce, as when a lyon roareth: and when he had cryed, seven thondres 
uttered their voyces ... And the Angel which I sawe stand upon the sea and 
upon the earth, lift up his ha[n]d to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for 
evermore ... that time should be more.^^ 

In Cleopatra's struggle for ascendency over Octavius, reminiscences of 
Revelations serve to enhance her self-portrayal by figuring her political 
position as the Faithful threatened by the Roman Antichrist. Once she has 
outwitted Caesar and has costumed herself for a grand suicide, Cleopatra goes 
to meet Mark Antony, whom, for the first time, she addresses as "husband": 
"Husband, I come! / Now to that name my courage prove my title!" (V.ii.287- 
8). The "trimming" of her diadem (341), the conjoined elements of sacrifice, 
loyalty, "immortal longings," and transcendent marriage after long trial all 
enforce the parallel with Revelations; and the imagined marriage in the 
afterlife crowns and completes the lovers' initial paradisal intuitions, so that 
(from Cleopatra's point of view) the span of her relationship with Antony can 
be summed in two crucial verses from Revelations: 

And I sawe a new heaven, & a new earth: for the first heaven, and the first 
earth were passed away, & there was no more sea. And I John sawe the holie 
citie newe Jerusalem come down from God out of heaven, pared as a bride 
trimmed for her housband.'*^ 

From the Roman point of view, on the other hand, Cleopatra is the Whore 
of Babylon rather than the Bride of the Lamb (this is, of course, wildly 
out-of-place, but is nonetheless quite explicit in the text). Octavius echoes the 
Bible in decrying Cleopatra as "a whore" who is "levying / The kings o' th' 
earth for war" (III.vi.68-69).'^'^ It follows that the destruction of Cleopatra is 
a necessary precondition of Augustan "universal peace" (note that this 
peculiarly apocalyptic view of the struggle between Caesar and Cleopatra 
dovetails with the Augustan view set forth in Horace's Ode on the fall of 
Cleopatra and in Virgil's ekphrastic rendering of the Battle of Actium in the 
Aeneid)^^ 

The doubleness and struggle which attends Shakespeare's use of Revela- 
tions in the play, the opposite and conflicting ways in which apocalyptic 
allusion can colour that play's central conflict, contributes to the complexity 
of the play's evocation of Elizabethan rule, and matches — as I have already 
suggested — the bifurcated allegorial presentation of Elizabeth in Faerie 
Queene. Spenser's poem, written during Elizabeth's reign, plays out the 
cuhural struggle to come to terms with a Queen who was both the leader of 



Renaissance et Réforme / 17 

the Elect Nation and also a notoriously vain woman, enacting the wider 
controversy in its own divided allegorization of the Queen and in its wealth 
of incriminating detail (Lucifera is "A mayden Queene" [I.iv.8], Malecasta's 
robes are uncannily like those of "the virgin Eliza" [III.i.59]).^^ Shakespeare's 
Jacobean play is able to force together these contrary qualities in the character 
of Cleopatra, and to invest that character with the Jacobean nostalgias for the 
millenarian aspirations of the Elizabethan era. The play suggests, then, that 
the death of the great Queen and the accession of the peacemaker has tamed 
the violent energies of female rule, but that it has also precipitated a fall into 
secular — as opposed to apocalyptic — history. 

IV 

It is the distinguishing feature of great drama that it can make itself at home 
before different audiences, that it can adapt to radically differing modes of 
response. This, as I have argued, was true of Antony and Cleopatra in 
1606-1607 when — possibly — it was performed both at the Globe and at 
Court; it is certainly true now since the play continues to flourish even though 
it has lost the topical level of meaning which I have argued it possessed at 
first. The first audiences of Antony and Cleopatra would not, I think, have 
felt any more intensely than we the fierce contraries embodied in Egypt's 
Queen, but they would have apprehended these contraries more complexly 
than we, as political as well as moral, responding to the play as they were out 
of a specific, immediate, and deeply-felt political frame of reference. 

University of British Columbia _f 

Notes 

1. See Janet Adelman, The Common Liar: An Essay on Antony and Cleopatra (New 
Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1973), pp. 102-68. 

2. For a recent discussion of the play's treatment of gender and power, see Theodora A. 
Jankowski, "'As I Am Egypt' Queen': Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, and the Female Body 
Politic," in Assays. Critical approaches to Medieval and Renaissance Texts, 5 (1989), 
91-110. 

3. All Shakespeare quotations are from Complete Works, ed. David Bevington, 3rd ed. 
(Glenview: Scott, Foresman, 1980). 

4. John Donne, Poetical Works, ed. Herbert Grierson (rpt. London: Oxford University 
Press, 1966), Satyre V, II. 2-4. 

5. "Prosopopoia: or Mother Hubberds Tale," in Poetical Works, ed. J.C. Smith and E. de 
Selincourt (rpt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), II. 717ff. Note that even in 
this passage, Spenser reverts to the phrase "Courtly Gentleman" (1. 753). 



18 / Renaissance and Reformation 

6. See also Troilus and Cressida, I.iii.235-6, where the collocation of "courtiers" and 
"free" also highlights the aristocratic sense of the word. 

7. See Anne Barton, "Harking Back to Elizabeth: Ben Jonson and Caroline Nostalgia," 
ELH, 48 (1981), 706-31; for a dissenting view, see D. R. Woolf, "Two Elizabeths? 
James I and the Late Queen's Famous Memory," Canadian Journal of History, 20:2 
(Aug. 1985), 167-91. 

8. For a brilliant discussion of James's Roman style, see Jonathan Goldberg, James I and 
the Politics of Literature: Jonson, Shakespeare, Donne, and Their Contemporaries 
(Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), pp. 27-54; see also 
Graham Parry, The Golden Age Restor'd: The Culture of the Stuart Court, 1603-42 
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1981), pp. 15-20; Howard Erskine-Hill, 
The Augustan Idea in English Literature (London: Edward Arnold, 1983), pp. 99-178; 
H. Neville Davies, "Jacobean A«/o/jy and Cleopatra,'" Shakespeare Studies, 17 (1985), 
123-58. 

9. The connexion between Greville's lost play and Antony and Cleopatra was noted by 
Geoffrey Bullough, Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, 8 vols. (London: 
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957-75), 5:216-17. 

10. Emrys Jones, "Introduction," A/jfowy and Cleopatra (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1 977), 
pp. 46-7. I should note that the dates are against the Melville/Messenger parallel. The 
incident itself happened in 1564 (the year of Shakespeare's birth), and Melville's 
Memoirs were not published until 1683; it is unlikely that the exchange between 
Elizabeth and Melville would have still been a matter of public knowledge in 1606-07. 

11. Jones, p. 47 

12. For an extensive discussion of the politics of the Jacobean Theatre, see the present 
author's "the Powerless Theater," forthcoming, in ELR. 

13. A. P. Riemer, A Reading of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (Sydney: Sydney 
University Press, 1968), p. 39. 

14. See Margaret Lamb, A/i/o/jy and Cleopatra on the English Stage (Rutherford: Fairleigh 
Dickinson University Press, 1980), p. 164; and Davies, "Jacobean Antony and 
Cleopatra," p. 123-4. 

15. Bullough, Sources of Shakespeare, 5:216-17; Helen Morris, "Queen Elizabeth I 
'Shadowed' in Cleopatra," HLQ 32 (1968-69), 271-8, Kenneth Muir, "Elizabeth I, 
Jodelle, and Cleopatra," Renaissance Drama, ns 2 (1969), 197-206; and Keith 
Rinehart, "Shakespeare's Cleopatra and England's Elizabeth," SQ, 23 (1972), 81-6. 

16. Barton, "Caroline Nostalgia," p. 712. 

17. Quoted in Robert Ashton, éd., James I by his Contemporaries: An Account of his 
Career and Character as Seen by Some of his Contemporaries (London: Hutchinson, 
1969), p. 77. 

18. Samuel Daniel, Cleopatra, in The Complete Works in Verse and Prose, ed. Alexander 
B. Grosart, 5 vols. (rpt. New York: Russell & Russell, 1963), 3:5. 

19. Quoted in Bullough, 5:217. 

20. Those who have argued that the 1607 Cleopatra was influenced by Antony and 
Cleopatra include J. Leeds Barroll, "The Chronology of Shakespeare's Jacobean Plays 
and the Dating of Antony and Cleopatra," in Essays on Shakespeare ed. Gordon Ross 



Renaissance et Réforme / 19 

Smith (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1965), pp. 138-45; and 
Lamh, Antony on the Stage, pp. 180-5. Those who disagree include Ernest Schanzer, 
"Daniel's Revision of his Cleopatra," Res, ns 8 no 32 (1957), 375-81; and Bullough, 
5:231-2. 

21. See note 7; the present author's argument was presented in a paper, "Egyptian Past, 
Roman Future: The Jacobean Artro/j>' and Cleopatra," at the meeting of the Shakespeare 
Association of America, April 1986. 

22. See Davies, 125, 149^4. 

23. For a good account of this pageant, see Parry, Golden Age, pp. 1-21. 

24. Ben Jonson, ed. CIH. Herford and Percy and Evelyn Simpson, II vols. (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1925-52), 7:105. 

25. Ben Jonson, 7:107-109. 

26. Quoted in Ashton, p. 10. 

27. Morris, 276-7. 

28. See Spenser, Works, p. 407. 

29. Quoted in Ashton, p. 10 

30. See Jankowski "Female Body Politic"; see also Louis Adrian Montrose, "'Shaping 
Fantasies' : Figurations of Gender and Power in Elizabethan Culture," Representations, 
1 (1983), 61-94. For a brilliant discussion of Shakespeare's figuration of the Queen in 
1 Henry VI, see Leah S. Marcus, Puzzling Shakespeare: Local Reading and Its 
Discontents (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), pp. 51-92. 

31. Quoted in Ashton, p. 10. Note that Antony's fondest desire in his dotage upon Cleopatra 
is to "wander through the streets and note / The qualities of people" (I. i. 54-5), and it 
is precisely this princely enthusiasm for the people that draws Octavius' most nauseated 
criticism: "Let's grant it is not / Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy, / And keep 
the turn of tippling with a slave, / To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet / With 
knaves that smell of sweat" (I. iv. 17-21). 

32. See Goldberg, Politics of Literature, pp. 30-2. 

33. For a discussion of the implied Christian ethos in the play, see Andrew Fichter, 
"'Antony and Cleopatra': 'The Time of Universal Peace,'" Shakespeare Survey, 33 
(1980), 99-111. 

34. For a good discussion of the effects of the myth of Elizabeth upon James's relations 
with the English, see R. Malcolm Smuts, Court Culture and the Origins of a Royalist 
Tradition in Early Stuart England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 
1987), pp. 15-37. 

35. Caesar's bathetic shift from a noble eulogistic tone highlights the degraded sense of 
the word "business." A few examples of the degradation of this word include the 
following: Winter's Tale, I. ii. 227-8 (where the word has not uncommon sexual con- 
notation); "On Don Surly" (Ben Jonson, 8:35,11.7-8); "The Praises of the Country Life" 
(Jonson, 8:289,11.1-2); and "Breake of Day" (Donne, Poetical Works, p. 22, 11.13, 
16-17). The choice of the word "business" constitutes a weak and self-betraying 
moment in Caesar's attempts to appropriate the heroic language which belongs to the 
past generation. 



20 / Renaissance and Reformation 

36. See Jones, "Introduction," Antony and Cleopatra, p. 46, for the suggestion that 
Shakespeare's style is reminiscent of Horace. For a discussion of Shakespeare's 
"transvaluation" of the Augustan ethos, see Barbara J. Bono, Literary Transvaluation: 
From Virgillian Epic to Shakespearean Tragicomedy (Berkeley: University of Califor- 
nia Press, 1984), esp. pp. 140ff. 

37. See William Haller, Foxe's Book of Martyrs and the Elect Nation (London: Jonathan 
Cape, 1963); and Elkin Calhoun Wilson, England's Eliza (rpt. London: Frank Cass, 
1966), esp. 3-95. 

38. See Goldberg, Politics of Literature, p. 33. 

39. BenJonson, 8:245, IL 60-61. 

40. The Poems of Thomas Carew, ed. Rhodes Dunlap (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949), p. 
72, 1. 19. 

41. Cf., for example, Horace, "Ode XXXVII," in The Odes and Epodes, trans. CE. Bennett 
(rev. London: Heinemann, 1968), p. 98, esp. II. 104; and Vugû, Aeneid, bk. I, II. 1-7, 
in Virgil, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, 2 vols. (rev. London: Heinemann, 1974), 1:240. 

42. Ethel Seaton, ^'Antony and Cleopatra and the Book of Revelation," RES, 22 (1946), 

219-24. 

43. See Fichter, "Time of Universal Peace," pp. 99-111; and Seaton, esp. p. 224. 

44. See Revelations, 8.10, in The Geneva Bible: A Facsimile of the 1560 Edition, ed. Lloyd 
E. Berry (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969); cited by Seaton, pp. 219-20. 

45. Revelations, 10. 1-6; cited by Seaton, pp. 220-1. 

46. Revelations, 21. 1-2. 

47. See Revelations, 17. 1-2; cited by Seaton, p. 223. 

48. See Franklin M. Dickey, Not Wisely But Too Well: Shakespeare' s Love Tragedies (San 
Marino: Huntington Library Publications, 1966), pp. 146-8. 

49. See The Faerie Queene, ed. A.C. Hamilton (London: Longman, 1977), gloss on 111.1.59. 



Marguerite Reads Giovanni: Gender and 
Narration in the Heptaméron and the 
Decameron 

|| ELIZABETH C. WRIGHT 



X he theory of poetic "imitation" in sixteenth-century France stressed the 
assimilation of foreign words into French literature, using metaphors of 
natural processes. Joachim Du Bellay, for example, in his Deffence et 
Illustration de la Langue Françoyse (1549), called for French writers to 
"digest" Greek and Latin works, transforming them into their own "blood 
and nourishment," as Latin writers had done with Greek authors (I.vii); and 
Ronsard, borrowing from Horace, compared the process to that of a bee 
making honey from the nectar of various flowers,^ 

By contrast. Marguerite de Navarre, in the "Prologue" to her Heptaméron, 
while referring to a recent French translation of Boccaccio's Decameron as 
her source and inspiration, took pains to emphasize the difference between 
her work and his, to distinguish it from the previous one. 

Boccaccio's tales are first described by Parlamente as the object of ex- 
travagant praise at the French court: 

[J]e croy qu'il n'y a nulle de vous qui n'ait leu les cent Nouvelles de Bocace, 
nouvellement traduictes d'ytalien en françois, que le roy François, premier 
de son nom, monseigneur le Daulphin, madame la Daulphine, madame 
Marguerite, font tant de cas, que si Bocace, du lieu où il estoit, les eut peu 
oyr, il debvoit resusciter à la louange de telles personnes.^ 

However, when Parlamente evokes the French court's decision to imitate 
the tales, they establish their difference from Boccaccio's work through a 
series of negatives: 

se délibérèrent d'en faire autant, sinon en une chose différente de Bocace: 
c'est de n'escripre nulle nouvelle qui ne soit veritable histoire. Et prosmirent 
les dictes dames et monseigneur le Daulphin avecq d'en faire chascun dix et 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVI, 1 (1991) 21 



22 / Renaissance and Reformation 

d'assembler jusques à dix personnes qu'ilz pensoient plus dignes de 
racompter quelque chose, sauf ceulx qui avoient estudié et estoient gens de 
lettres; car monseigneur le Daulphin ne voulloit que leur art y fut meslé, et 
aussy de paour que la beaulté de la rethoricque feit tort en quelque partye à 
la vérité de l'histoire (9; emphasis added). 

Marguerite's protagonists adopt this project of the French court as their 
own, and the proposal to tell only "true" stories becomes a principle guiding 
their narrations. Boccsiccio'' s Decameron is thus presented as both model and 
anti-model for the tales of the Heptaméron; a work to emulate, but one that 
by implication is false and deceptive. 

The opposition between "truth" and "rhetoric" is of course a rhetorical 
strategy in itself, and is frequently repeated as a theme in the discourse of the 
work. In addition, Marguerite's alteration of the Decameron'^ narrative 
structures — occulting the first-level narrator and adding extensive debates 
following the stories — creates a tension between "objective" and "subjective" 
narration on a formal level. Some critics have emphasized Marguerite's 
spiritual or didactic purpose in these transformations-^, while others have 
analyzed the complexity of her form as a mark of modern narrative."* The role 
of gender in shaping this relationship, however, has not been fully explored 
in the critical literature, neither as it informed the cultural context in which 
the two writers worked, nor as they inscribed it in their narratives.^ 

In analyzing Marguerite's stance in relation to Boccaccio's tales, it is 
important to note that the European novella genre was practiced almost ex- 
clusively by male authors. Before Marguerite's tales, only one other work of this 
type was presented as authored by a woman, the Comptes amoureux attributed 
to "Jeanne Flore," published in Lyon before 1540, and Claude Longeon has 
presented evidence that this pseudonym may have covered the identity of a male 
author, Etienne Dolet.^ It is perhaps not accidental that Marguerite did not attempt 
to publish her own tales during her lifetime, nor that they were attributed to an 
anonymous male author in their first printed edition.^ 

Indeed, Vives' influential treatise on "The Instruction of a Christian 
Woman" specifically forbade women even to read "Boccaccio's tales and all 
like his".^ In his opinion, books on love written in the vernacular were fit only 
for "idle folk".^ Marguerite's sponsorship of a new French translation of the 
Decameron certainly went counter to this injunction, and in his prefatory 
epistle dedicating the work to her, Emilio Ferretti insisted on the high moral 
value of the work as well as its art, directly addressing the condemnation of 
it as unfit for "chaste and honest minds". ^^ 



Renaissance et Réforme / 23 

Since Ferretti's was in fact the prevailing humanist view of the work in 
Marguerite's time, her interest in the Decameron may have been supported 
by it. An additional prohibition, however, might have dissuaded Marguerite 
from daring to imitate Boccaccio's "art," for the study and practice of 
"rhetoric" was also forbidden to women by many male humanist educators. ^^ 
In this context. Marguerite's presentation of her work as the "truthful" 
narrations of a mixed-sex group of aristocrats, untrained in "rhetoric," appears 
to echo the gender prohibitions of her time. 

Boccaccio's work, however, presented female narratorial voices at the second 
narrative level, and addressed the tales to a public of women, features also found 
in some of his Italian followers, in contrast to the French practitioners of this 
genre, whose narrators were often men addressing an all-male public. 

The representation of women's voices in the Decameron text thus may have 
encouraged Marguerite to add her own, but when she adopted Boccaccio's 
text as a model, she also set up an impersonal first-level narrator, who rarely 
intervenes with any direct commentary. ^^ By contrast, the Decameron's 
first-level narrator is a male authorial persona, whose playful discourse on 
gender differentiation serves to motivate the storytelling and continues to 
inform his interventions throughout the work. 

The narrator of Boccaccio's "Proemio" expresses his desire to reciprocate for 
the help offered him by male friends when he was suffering from a buming 
passion conceived for a lady of superior rank. In a sudden switch, however, he 
states that it is "ladies" ("donne") who are more in need of this sort of comfort 
than men, due to their weaker and more delicate nature, and the social restrictions 
imposed upon them. The stories will thus be his way of expressing compassion 
for these differences, and of bringing solace to the less fortunate sex.^-^ 

By now placing all "ladies who love" ("quelle che amano") in an inferior 
position to all men, and giving himself the power to provide "support and 
diversion" ("soccorso e rifugio") for them through his tales, the narrator reverses 
the gender configuration of his initial story, where his lady was in a superior 
position, and he was in need of comfort. Thus while he claims to be telling the 
stories in order to make up for "Fortune"' s lack of kindness to women, they are 
also a way for him to compensate for his own lack of fortune in love. Narration 
becomes a kind of surrogate for love-making between himself and his previously 
inaccessible lady; "Love," now that he is no longer imprisoned by it, has granted 
him "il potere attendere a' loro piaceri" (Proemio 13-15).^'^ 

In the "Introduction to the Fourth Day," the narrator/author continues his 
theme of narrating for the ladies, but here they are once again in a superior 
position to him and to all men. He uses a fable of a boy whose father tried to 



24 / Renaissance and Reformation 

hide him from the temptations of women to prove that all males are irresistibly 
attracted to them, and he further claims that ladies have provided the source 
of inspiration for his poetry rather than the Muses (IV, Introduzione 12-36). 

In the "Author's Conclusion," however, he returns once again to an attitude 
of condescension towards women, justifying imperfections in the style of his 
stories by the fact that he had to transcribe them as they were told by the lady 
narrators, and also by the need to address an audience of "semplice giovinette" 
who had not "sharpened their wits" ("gl'ingegni assottigliati") by studying in 
Athens or Bologna or Paris (Conclusione dell'Autore 16-21; Musa and 
Bondanella 687-88). 

The narrative motivation for the tales of the Decameron is thus directly 
linked to gender differentiation. The male narrator justifies addressing his 
stories to "ladies" based on their difference from men. They need consolation 
from him since they are more fragile and more oppressed by society than men, 
yet they are also irresistibly attractive to him and inspire his work. 

By contrast, in the Heptaméron's "Prologue," the first-level narrator does 
not identify itself by gender and has no story of its own to tell; the only direct 
interventions by this voice in the "Prologue" deal with narrative technique (1; 
10). In addition, this narrator gives over to the second-level narrators the task 
not only of telling the stories but also of writing them down, for Parlamente 
suggests that they present them as a gift to the French court upon their return 
(10). Further, the initial motivation for the storytelling is not attributed to this 
narrator's desire, as in the Decameron, but rather to a project formulated by 
members of the French court, as described above. 

While the first-person narrator does not then claim to be the initiator of the 
work, the "madame Marguerite" named as one of the court members who 
formulated the project most likely designates the author herself, perhaps 
constituting a residue from earlier manuscripts where a single female narrator 
recounted the tale (Fontanella 375-78). Since the erasure of a personal 
narrative voice coincided with the organization of the tales into a format 
echoing the Decameron's, Marguerite's move away from it reads both as a 
critique of Boccaccio's male authorial persona's playful ideology of gender 
differentiation, and as a strategy to circumvent the gender prohibitions of her 
time — against women's reading of Boccaccio's work and practicing the art 
of rhetoric. ^^ 

Marguerite further transforms the gender of the Decameron's narrative 
voice in her depiction of the second-level narrators, the storytellers. Where 
Boccaccio again plays with gender reversals on this narrative level. Mar- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 25 

guérite once more subverts his emphasis on gender differentiation, this time 
by establishing equality between her male and female narrators. 

In the "Introduction to the First Day," Boccaccio's authorial persona 
presents the second-level narrators through a tale set in the time of the 1348 
Plague in Florence. He emphasizes that during this catastrophe there was a 
general abandonment of traditional customs, including those regulating dif- 
ferences in men's and women's behaviour, and the breakdown of gender 
differentiation is presented as a symptom of social disorder. Due to the 
scarcity of servants, for example, ladies who were ill allowed themselves to 
be tended by male servants (I, Introduzione 29), and women forgot their 
traditional role in mourning rites, instead engaging in witticisms and laughter 
in situations of bereavement (I, Introduzione 32-34). Further, when the 
narrator introduces the seven ladies who have gathered in the church of Santa 
Maria Novella, he gives them fictional names because the present "laws 
relating to pleasure" are somewhat "stricter" than at the time of the Plague 
("essendo oggi alquanto ristrette le leggi al piacere"), and the ladies might be 
shamed in the future for having narrated and listened to the tales (I, Intro- 
duzione 50; Musa and Bondanella 12). 

The narrator thus emphasizes that any transgressions in gender boundaries 
that occur in the story of the narrators is a temporary phenomenon, taking place 
within a general breakdown of social order, and different from both past and 
present moral codes. Indeed, the initial daring suggestion by Pampinea, the oldest 
of the group, that the seven ladies leave Florence with only their servants, is 
tempered by the counsel of Filoména and Elissa, who remind the group that they 
are "women" ("femine"), and thereby unable to act wisely without guidance from 
men (I, Introduzione 74-76). Nevertheless, the seven ladies outnumber the three 
young gentlemen they invite to join them, and Pampinea' s leadership role is 
evident, for it is she who invites the men, and who suggests once they are in the 
countryside that they should bring order to their enterprise by choosing a leader 
for each day. She is unanimously elected as the first Queen, and it is she who 
proposes the activity of storytelling as a pleasant diversion for the hotter part of 
the afternoon (I, Introduzione 87, 94-102, 109-12). 

These ladies of action might seem then to represent compensatory figures 
to the confined ladies depicted in the "Proemio," who form the fictional 
audience for the narrator.*^ The emphasis on the plague setting, however, 
points up the loosening of gender roles depicted here as essentially a "car- 
nivalesque" phenomenon without lasting consequences. Their liberated be- 
havior is not a lesson to be learned nor a model to follow, ^^ but a symptom 
of social disintegration. 



26 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Marguerite's "Prologue" also tells the story of a catastrophe that leads to 
the narrators' gathering together in a setting where they will tell stories, but 
the assembled group of ten contains an equal number of men and women 
whose behavior is not differentiated by gender. Having improved their heahh 
through their stay at a Pyrénées spa, they are dispersed by a flood just as they 
were planning to return home, and the adventures that lead to their eventual 
reunion in a monastery demonstrate that women and men show equal courage 
and strength in the face of adversity. 

Oisille, the oldest female character, walks through difficult mountain paths in 
order to arrive at a monastery, and Nomerfide and Ennasuite are able to escape 
from a bear by running swiftly down the mountain. While the other two female 
characters, Parlamente and Longarine, are saved from an attack by bandits by 
their two gentlemen suitors, Dagoucin and Saffredent, the linking of their victory 
with their sex is contradicted by the fact that the ladies' husbands are also victims 
of the attack, one of them dying from it. In addition, the group of bandits includes 
both the host and hostess of the lodging, and the gentlemen do not hesitate to kill 
her along with her husband. The narrator thus seems to be going out of its way 
not to link either virtue or strength to sex in this scene. Indeed, the last two male 
characters to be introduced also have to be saved by others. Geburon, pursued 
by bandits, is rescued by the three previously introduced gentlemen, and Simon- 
tault, who narrowly escapes drowning while attempting to cross the swollen river, 
is saved by a shepherd and guided by a monk to the monastery where he rejoins 
the other (2-6). 

Male and female characters in this preliminary story are thus portrayed as 
equal in courage, physical strength and moral virtue, and the reunion of the 
aristocratic protagonists is arranged so as to bring together equal numbers of 
each sex: five and five, in contrast to Boccaccio's seven female and three male 
storytellers. The story, rather than representing a scene of social disorder and 
gender reversals as did Boccaccio's Plague, echoes instead the Biblical tale 
of the flood, where one creature of each sex was saved to begin life anew.^^ 

Further, in the discussions concerning how to pass the time during their 
stay in the monastery, one sex is not given preeminence over the other. Oisille 
is first consulted as to how the group might avoid "ennuy" during its stay, but 
after she states that reading from the Bible is the only remedy she has found 
for her troubles, it is one of the male characters, Hircan, who intervenes with 
the suggestion that the group listen to Oisille' s readings in the morning but 
also find a more physical pastime for the afternoon. Although he notes that 
he is "parlant pour la part des hommes," he has included women in his 
declaration of the group's need for physical exercise (8), in a passage which 



Renaissance et Réforme / 27 

both echoes and modifies the Decameron narrator's vision in the "Proemio" 
of the restrictions placed on women's activities J ^ 

Oisille defers to Hircan and asks him to name his choice of activity. He 
alludes to the idea that making love to his wife Parlamente would be his first 
choice, to which she responds by saying that they should eliminate activities 
in which only two people can participate and instead choose one suitable for 
a group (8-9). When he directs her to guide them, she suggests they complete 
the work based on Boccaccio's one hundred tales previously begun by 
members of the French court. The rest of the group happily accept this plan, 
and Simontault begins the first story (9-10). Thus while Oisille is singled out 
from the others to lead the morning activity of Bible reading, the choice of 
storytelling is arrived at through a dialogue between both sexes, and the 
direction of the groups passes alternately from female to male characters.^^ 

By her portrayal of genuine equality between men and women in the 
narrative of her storytellers. Marguerite thus radicalizes Boccaccio's loosen- 
ing of gender roles and reversals of sexual hierarchy on the second narrative 
level. This Utopian vision is tempered, however, by her representation of 
gender roles in the tales themselves, where the storytellers have sworn to "tell 
the truth." Here, where Boccaccio's stories again emphasize comic and 
temporary reversals of gender imbalance. Marguerite's depict with equal 
force both individuals' attempts to assert sexual equality and the social 
obstacles they encounter. 

The Decameron tales emphasize individual acts of liberation, temporary 
reversals of inequality whether based on gender or rank, at the same time that 
the status quo of law and custom is reaffirmed.^^ While many of the stories 
depict intelligent and resourceful female characters who successfully chal- 
lenge the social restrictions imposed upon them, Radcliff-Umstead points out 
that males "retain an institutional dominance" in the work.'^^ Women triumph 
in specific situations through their wit and/or trickery,^^ but they generally 
do not challenge the laws and customs themselves which determined 
women's subordination to their parents or husbands. As Marcel Janssens 
points out, "the underlying myth of most tales concerns plainly the subser- 
vient position of woman, who is bound to submit to Nature, custom and law, 
but who succeeds in eluding all sorts of restraints, provided she is beautiful, 
witty and tricky".^'* 

Even in the tale of Madonna Filippa (VI.7), for instance, which would seem 
to be an exception to the above generalizations in that she openly challenges 
the law, her success is attributed to her "ready and amusing reply" rather than 
to a principle of equality .^^ 



28 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Indeed, the scene is already set for Filippa' s exoneration before the questioning 
begins. The statute she defies, which mandated death for any woman caught in 
the act of adultery by her husband, is already criticized as harsh and reprehensible 
("non men biasimevole che aspro") by the storyteller (VI.7, 4). When Filippa's 
husband has her summoned to court under this decree, the narrator emphasizes 
the courage she manifests by her decision to appear and confess to the charges, 
risking death, despite the advice of many friends and relatives (9- 1 0). Her beauty, 
breeding and courage also immediately gain her the sympathy of the podestà, 
who hopes not to be forced to condemn her to death (11). 

While boldly acknowledging the truth of the charges, Filippa challenges 
the statute on two grounds. First, that while it applies only to women, no 
women consented or were even consulted about its passage; and second, that 
it unjustly restricts women, "le quali molto meglio che gli uomini potrebbero 
a molti sodisfare" (14). 

She then has the podestà ask her husband if she has ever refused him 
gratification, to which he replies that "senza alcun dubbio la donna ad ogni 
sua richiesta gli aveva di se ogni suo piacere conceduto" (16). Her next 
question to the official, justifying her affair as a way to avoid wasting what 
was "left over," provokes great mirth from the citizens of Prato gathered to 
hear the case: "io che doveva fare o debbo di quel che gli avanza? debbolo io 
gittare ai cani? non è egli molto meglio servirne un gentile uomo che più che 
se m'ama, che lasciarlo perdere o guastare?" (17). 

Following her witty remark, the crowd unanimously declares her both 
"right" and "well-spoken," and then proceeds to modify the statute to punish 
only women whose infidelity is venal: 

udendo cosi piacevol riposta, subitamente, dopo moite risa, quasi ad una 
voce tutti gridarono la donna aver ragione e dir bene: e prima che di quivi si 
partissono, a cic confortandogli il podestà, modificarono il crudele statuto e 
lasciarono che egli s'intendesse solamente per quelle donne le quali per 
denari a' lor mariti facesser fallo (18). 

Her husband, embarrassed and ashamed ("confuso"), leaves the scene of 
judgment, and Madonna Filippa, having won her freedom, returns trium- 
phantly ("gloriosa") to her house. 

Thus Madonna Filippa successfully challenges the law, but she wins not 
so much by her argument about the need for women to take an equal part in 
making the law, as by her own personal merit, and her witticism demonstrat- 
ing women's superiority to men in the area of sexual drive. The principle is 
again one of reversal of gender hierarchy rather than abolition of it. The 



Renaissance et Réforme / 29 

modification of the statute also does not uphold the principle of equality 
between women and men, for it still applies only to women, and punishes 
only women for the crime of aduhery. 

Marguerite's tales also depict many female characters who defy the customary 
roles imposed on their gender, but while their eloquence is often admirable, their 
actions are generally thwarted by those in power. This only serves to emphasize, 
however, the arbitrary nature of gender definition, and the debate which follow 
the stories further to develop this point, by presenting opposing views on gender 
distinctions which are never resolved. Thus the Heptaméron tales depict the 
enforcement of gender roles by those in power, and the impossibility for women 
to successfully negotiate more just treatment for themselves, at the same time 
that they point out in a more radical and absolute manner than the Decameron's 
the arbitrariness of gender distinctions themselves. 

The Fifteenth Tale, for example, can be compared and contrasted to that of 
Madonna Filippa, for its female protagonist pleads eloquently for her right to 
love a man other than her husband. The tale is designed to portray women as 
equal to men, for Longarine introduces it as one that will show that there are 
women "ayans aussi bon cueur, aussy bon esprit, et aussy plaines de finesses 
que les hommes" (116). 

A rich young woman married to a gentleman at the Court of Francis I is 
completely ignored for three years by her husband, who spends all his time 
with a woman who is also the King's lover. The young woman begins to 
develop a friendship with a prince of the Court, but he is reprimanded by the 
King, and told to cease pursuing her, which he does. When her husband learns 
of this, he begins to notice his wife and attempts to get back in her good graces, 
but she is now determined to take her revenge, "désirant luy rendre partye des 
ennuictz qu'elle avoit euz pour estre de luy peu aymé" (119). She finds 
friendship with another gentleman, and her husband promises to kill her if he 
learns of her speaking to the man she loves either in public or private; when 
he discovers that she has asked her lover to come to her chamber at night, he 
summons her immediately to his room. 

On this occasion she, like Madonna Filippa, gives an eloquent speech in 
her own defense, confessing that she has sought out this man and loves him 
(although her pleasure has been limited to talk and kisses). She condemns her 
husband's behavior while excusing her own, though her reasoning is moral, 
rather than an argument for women's sexual superiority as in Filippa's tale. 
She affirms her ultimate equal status with her husband, not in human law but 
before God: "Et combien que la loy des hommes donne grand deshonneur 



30 / Renaissance and Reformation 

aux femmes qui ayment autres que leurs mariz, si est-ce que la loy de Dieu 
n'exempte poinct les mariz qui ayment autres que leurs femmes" (123). 

Since her husband is this woman's only earthly judge, however, she is not 
vindicated, for he is "tant surpris d'estonnement" by her courage and eloquence 
that he can only reply by reiterating the double standard for men's and women's 
honor (124), Totally isolated at the Court, without any community support of the 
type Filippa enjoyed (the King remains loyal to her husband), this young woman 
continues to be persecuted by her husband in her attempts to find love. 

Where Boccaccio's story of Filippa makes us laugh by showing how a 
superior woman can successfully flaunt an unjust law imposed on her by men. 
Marguerite's tale demonstrates that a woman can desire love and sexual 
fulfillment on an equal basis with a man and, despite her cleverness and 
beauty, still be thwarted in her attempts to break out of the submissive role 
assigned her. Madonna Filippa is able to resolve her situation by confronting 
the law and reversing the balance of power, but the only forum where it is 
suggested that the woman of the Fifteenth Tale will win the equality she 
desires is in God's judgment. The tale is much more troubling than funny, for 
it portrays a rigid enforcement of gender differences at the same time that it 
proves them to be completely arbitrary. 

Further, the discussion which follows emphasizes the woman's transgres- 
sion of her gender. Longarine, the narrator of the tale, seconded by Parla- 
mente, condemns the woman's behavior as unworthy of "une femme de bien," 
who must remain loyal to her husband no matter how he treats her. SimontauU 
then actually challenges the woman's gender characterization by saying that 
she had abandoned a woman's role by taking revenge on her husband rather 
than maintaining her honor: "celle dont le compte est faict a oblyé, pour ung 
temps, qu'elle estoit femme; car ung homme n'en eust sceu faire plus belle 
vengeance" (128). 

This discussion of a different moral standard for men's and women's 
behavior is an elaboration of the husband's comment in the tale, and in the 
debates following the Twenty-First, Twenty-Sixth, and Forty-Third Tales, the 
narrators engage in similar discussions where the difference between men's 
and women's "honor" is defined in a like manner; i.e., that men's honor 
consists in seeking pleasure, while women must restrain their sensual nature 
and remain chaste. A remark similar to Simontault's is made by Parlamente 
in the discussion of the Forty-Third Tale: 

[C]elles qui sont vaincues en plaisir ne se doibvent plus nommer femmes, 
mais hommes, desquelz la fureur et la concupiscence augmente leur honneur; 



Renaissance et Réforme / 31 

car ung homme qui se venge de son ennemy et le tue pour ung desmentir en 
est estimé plus gentil compagnon; aussy est-il quant il en ayme une douzaine 
avecq sa femme. Mais l'honneur des femmes a autre fondement: c'est 
doulceur, patience et chasteté (301). 

These statements also indicate that women's behavior often does not 
correspond to the standards enunciated by their code of honor, however, and 
this code is also characterized in the debate as a cover-up, or mask, for 
women's "true nature." Further on in the discussion following the Fifteenth 
Tale, Saffredent contradicts Simontault by saying that to be a woman does 
not consist in the trappings of honor but rather in the sexual desire hidden by 
women's dress, a point also made by Hircan after the Twenty-First and 
Twenty-Sixth Tales: "Toutesfois, dit Saffredent, si estes-vous toutes femmes, 
et quelques beaulx et honnestes accoustremens que vous portiez, qui vous 
chercheroit bien avant soubz la robbe vous trouveroit femmes" (128). 

In this discussion, as in the others, these two opposing definitions of women 
are allowed to co-exist without resolution. On the one hand, they are said to 
lose their womanhood if they fail to adhere to the standards for women's 
"honor"; on the other hand, they are seen as essentially sensual in nature. 
Closure occurs only when one of the narrators demands that they go on to the 
next story to avoid spending all day in argument. Thus while the discussions 
which follow the tales in fact highlight the systems of gender differentiation 
posited by society, the clash of contrasting definitions of gender actually 
negates the absolutism of the viewpoints presented, and gender is revealed as 
an arbitrary social construction.^^ 

The Fifteenth Tale is typical of the Heptaméron in its presentation of the 
conflict between women's behavior and the code of honor which demands 
chastity from them. Women are shown to have the same desires as men, but 
must obey a different standard which forbids them to act on these desires, and 
the debates following the tales further emphasize this point by presenting 
conflicting definitions of what it is to be a "woman." Women who realize 
their illicit sexual desires in the Heptaméron tales do so most often not by 
open challenge but by secrecy and silence, and are still condemned in the 
narrators' judgment (Tales 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 30, 43, 48), while those who openly 
challenge the restrictions on their sexual freedom are either dishonored or 
punished when their actions become known, whether or not they have 
justification (Tales 21, 36, 40, 53, 60, 6\)?'^ 

In the Decameron, by contrast, this dilemma is generally resolved through 
comic reversals of gender roles, as in Filippa's story, and only exceptionally 



32 / Renaissance and Reformation 

treated tragically, as in Ghismonda's story (IV.l) and other tales of the Fourth 
Day. Boccaccio's work thus shows compassion for women's plight, but 
generally cuts through their conflicts with an ease and freedom available only 
to men in his society. 

The Heptaméron instead leaves the reader troubled by the conflicts ex- 
perienced by women in Marguerite's society. While equality between the 
second-level male and female storytellers is established in the frame story, the 
erasure of a personalized authorial persona at the first level of narration, as well 
as the unresolved dilemmas posed in the tales and their commentary, serve to 
point up the difficulties women encountered in attempting to assert their desires. 

The strategies Marguerite de Navarre used in rewriting the gender of 
Boccaccio's narrative voice point to the restrictions on women's speech in 
her society, and both her submission to and portrayal of these restrictions 
convey certain painful "truths" about women's situation which were glossed 
over by the "rhetorical beauty" of the Decameron. Her rewriting of the gender 
of narration and the narration of gender in the Decameron depicts a very 
modern viewpoint on equality between the sexes, challenging the notion of 
gender itself by portraying it as an arbitrary social construction, at the same 
time that it describes the thwarting of this potential equality in the social 
reality of her time. She both uses the Decameron as nourishment for her work 
and also "remains elsewhere," revising and subverting it to portray her own 
personal vision. ^^ 

San Francisco State University 

Notes 

1. Cited in Henri Weber, La création poétique au XVle siècle en France, de Maurice 
Scève à Agrippa d'Aubigné, 2 vols. (Paris: Nizet, 1955), 1:123. For a full discussion 
of Renaissance imitatio, see Thomas M. Greene, The Light in Troy: Imitation and 
Discovery in Renaissance Poetry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982). 

2. Marguerite de Navarre, L'Heptaméron, éd. Michel François (Paris: Gamier, 1967) 9. 
All subsequent references will be to this edition. 

3. Luigi Monga, in "Misogyny or Feminism? A Topos in the Early Renaissance Novella," 
Fifteenth Century Studies, 10 (1984) 121-33, concluded that marguerite "adds a 
spiritual stress" to Boccaccio's "healthy, but too naturalistic viewpoint" (130), and 
Donald Stone also pointed out Marguerite's greater emphasis on educational values, 
in From Tales to Truths: Essays on French Fiction in the Sixteenth Century, Analecta 
Romanica Heft 34 (Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1973), 21-28. Yves Délègue, in 
"L 'Heptaméron est-il un anti-Boccace?" Travaux de linguistique et de littérature de 
l'Université de Strasbourg, IV. 2 (1966) 23-37, while viewing Marguerite's work as 
"exempt de tout didactisme," found in it an expression of disquieting conflicts specifi- 
cally opposed to Boccaccio's theme of consolation (37). 



Renaissance et Réforme / 33 

4. Volker Kapp (Trier), in "Der Wandel einer literarischen Form: Boccaccios Decameron 
und Marguerite de Navarres Heptaméroiu ^'Poetica, 14 (1982), 24-44, has viewed the 
greater complexity and openness of Marguerite's form as an adaptation to the more 
complex demands of her courtly environment and an historically later level of con- 
sciousness (43-44). Philippe de Lajarte, "Le Prologue de VHeptaméron et le processus 
de production de l'oeuvre," in Lionello Sozzi, éd., La nouvelle française à la Renais- 
sance (Genève: Slatkine, 1981) 397-423, and John D. Lyons, "The Heptaméron and 
the Foundation of Critical Narrative," Yale French Studies, 70 (1986), 150-63, have 
characterized Marguerite's break with Boccaccio as the beginning of modern, self-con- 
scious "critical" narrative; and Colette H. Winn, "An Instance of Narrative Seduction: 
The^ Heptaméron of Marguerite de Navarre," 5>'mpo5/M/n, 39.3 (1985), 217-226, relates 
it to both sixteenth-century and modern narrative strategies. 

5. Deborah N. Losse's article, "Authorial and Narrative Voice in the Heptaméron,''' 
Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Réforme, 1 1 .3 (1987), 223-42, treats the 
impact of gender on narrative voice in the novella genre, and its inscription on the 
various levels of Marguerite's work, but does not fully develop the contrast to the 
Decameron. Monga's article demonstrates the way in which Marguerite develops a 
woman's viewpoint more fully by alternating "misogynistic" and "feminist" statements 
in her narrations and discussions, but does not fully elaborate the comparison with the 
Decameron in terms of the various levels of narrative voice in the two works. Emile 
Telle's study, in L'Oeuvre de Marguerite d'Angoulême, Reine de Navarre, et la 
querelle des femmes (1937; Geneva: Slatkine Reprints, 1969), is limited by his insisting 
that Parlamente is Marguerite's spokesperson in the work, thus narrowing the 
"authorial voice" to this one character's viewpoint. 

6. "Du Nouveau sur les Comptes amoureux de Madame Jeanne Flore," Bibliothèque 
d'humanisme et renaissance, 44.3 (1982), 605-13. 

7. Histoire des Amans fortunez, éd. Pierre Boaistuau (Paris: G. Gilles, 1558). Boaistuau 
does not name the author of the tales, but refers to "him" with masculine pronouns 
("Introduction", iii). 

8. De institutione feminae Christianae, cited in Ruth Kelso, Doctrine for the Lady of the 
Renaissance (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1956), 73. First published in 
Latin in 1523, Vives' treatise, dedicated to Queen Catherine of England, and written 
as a guide for the education of Princess Mary, appeared in French translation in 1542, 
1543 and four times in 1545 (Kelso 421, #864). 

9. Cited by Gloria Kaufman, "Juan Luis Vives on the Education of Women," Signs, 3.4 
(1978), 894; this article analyzes in more detail the ambivalence of Vives' "feminism." 

10. Anthoine Le Maçon, trans.. Le Decameron de Messire Jehan Bocace, Florentin (Paris: 
Roffet, 1545), iii v. This is the new translation invoked in the Heptaméron "Prologue" 
previously cited. Glyn P. Norton, in "The Emilio Ferretti letter: a critical preface for 
Marguerite de Navarre," Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 4.2 (1974), 
287-300, has analyzed the importance of this epistle for the composition of 
Marguerite's "Prologue," but without reference to Vives' treatise. See also nl4 below. 

11. Lionardo Bruni, for example, in De studis letteris (c. 1405), stated that "rhetoric in all 
its forms" lay "absolutely outside the province of woman," cited by Ann Rosalind 
Jones, "Surprising Fame: Renaissance Gender Ideologies and Women's Lyric," in The 
Poetics of Gender, ed. Nancy K. Miller (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 



34 / Renaissance and Reformation 

75. The first part of the article (74-81) gives a full presentation of the proscriptions on 
women's rhetoric by humanist educators. 

12. In certain manuscript versions of Marguerite's tales, considered to be an earlier stage 
of the work, a single female narrator recounts the stories, with no "Prologue," nor 
division into days, nor reference to Boccaccio as a model. For a history of the text, see 
Lucia Fontanella, "Un codice sconosciuto delle 'Nouvelles" de Margherita de Navarra: 
contributo alio studio della genesi della raccolta," 361-78 in Sozzi, and Marie-Paule 
Hazera-Rihaoui's unpublished thesis, "Les premiers contes de Marguerite de Navarre 
(édition commentée du manuscrit français 1 5 1 3 de la Bibliothèque Nationale)," 2 vols., 
diss., Lyon H, 1989, which is a detailed study of the single-narrator version. 

13. Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron, ed. Vittore Branca (Firenze: Le Monnier, 1965) 
Proemio 1-12, and Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, trans. Mark Musa and Peter 
E. Bondanella (New York: Norton, 1982), 1-2. All subsequent references will be to 
these editions, using division names and sentence numbers from Branca, and page 
numbers from Musa and Bondanella, as above. Although Marguerite refers to Le 
Macon's French translation in the "Prologue" as the source for her imitation, she 
probably was familiar with the Italian version as well. 

14. The role of the narrator/author as an intermediary for love is also figured before the 
"Proemio" in the book's subtitle, "PRENCIPE GALEOTTO," referring to Lancelot's 
friend who acted as intermediary for him with Guinevere, and specifically evoking a 
passage in Book V of Dante's Inferno where Francesca identifies "Galeotto" as the 
book and author responsible for the consummation of the love between herself and 
Paolo (Branca Inl). 

In commenting on this aspect of the work, recent twentieth-century critics have tended 
to refute Francesco de Sanctis' naturalistic thesis, that the stories are "real panders to 
pleasure and to love," in History of Italian Literature, 2 vols. (New York: Harcourt, 
1931), 1: 336. They instead interpret both the narrator's addressing the work to "ladies 
in love" and the "Galeotto" subtitle as ironic stances on Boccaccio's part; for example, 
Giuseppe Mazzotta, "The Decameron: The Marginality of Literature," University of 
Toronto Quarterly, XLII.l (1972), 68-69; Robert Hollander, Boccaccio's Two Venuses 
(New York, Columbia University Press, 1977), ch. 4 esp. 106-07; and Janet Levarie 
Smarr, Boccaccio and Fiammetta: The Narrator as Lover (Urbana, University of 
Illinois Press, 1986), 202 esp. n78. 

However, fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Decameron interpreters seemed to regard 
these aspects of the text in their more literal, scandalous sense, since they dismissed or 
eliminated them in order to arrive at their interpretation of Boccaccio as a Christian 
moralist. Emilio Ferretti, for example, in his dedication of Le Macon's 1545 translation 
to Marguerite, did not mention that the book was addressed to an audience of women, 
and refuted the title of Galeotto at the same time that he defended the work as proper 
for "chaste and honest minds": "mi son forse piu maravigliato che doluto di quelli che 
o, hanno dato titolo di principe Galeotto a questo sanctissimo libro, o, I'hanno stimato 
indegno desser rappresentato a le caste, & honeste menti" (iii v). 

In fact, both the subtitle and the "Proemio" were eliminated in the most commonly 
reproduced French version of the Decameron before Le Macon's 1545 translation: Le 
Decameron de Messire Jehan Bocace Florentin, trans. Laurent de Premierfait (Paris: 
Vérard, 1485), reprinted eight times between 1485 and 1541. Le Maçon, however, 



Renaissance et Réforme / 35 

despite the Ferretti letter, did accurately translate the subtitle and the entire "Proemio," 
as did some manuscripts- of the Premierfait translation, such as BN mss. fr. 240 and 
1122; the latter was in the library of Marguerite's grandfather Jean d'Orléans, comte 
d'Angouiême. Marguerite thus had access to both a faithful translation of these aspects 
of the work, and to their dismissal or elimination by the interpreters of her time. 

15. Cautions about damage to a woman's honor through first-person narration of sexual 
incidents is also the theme of both the Fourth and Sixty-Second Tales of the 
Heptamérotu neither of which are found in the manuscript versions with a single female 
narrator. 

16. This is Shirley S. Allen's point of view in "The Griselda Tale and the Portrayal of 
Women in the Decameron,^' Philological Quarterly, 56 (1977), 7. 

17. Joy Hambuechen Potter, Five Frames for the Decameron: Communication and Social 
Systems in the Cornice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), 24. 

18. Délègue (32 and n35), as well as Betty J. Davis, The Storytellers in Marguerite de 
Navarre's Heptaméron, French Forum Monographs 9 (Lexington, KY: French Forum, 
1978) 192-93; Judith D. Suther, "Marguerite of Navarre's Quiet Victory over 
Misogyny," Explorations in Renaissance Culture 2 (1975) 45-54; and Claude-Gilbert 
Dubois, "Fonds mythique et jeu des sens dans le 'Prologue' de V Heptaméron,'^ Etudes 
seiziémistes offertes à V.-L Saulnier,cd. Robert Aulotte (Genève: Droz, 1980), 164n40, 
have pointed out the equality Marguerite establishes between male and female 
storytellers, but do not derive this from her depiction of their behavior in the narrative 
events which serve to bring them together. Both Paula Sommers, "Marguerite de 
Navarre's Heptaméron: The Case for the Cornice," French Review, 57.6 (1984), 787, 
and Dubois 156-60, discuss the "Prologue"'s relationship to the Genesis flood, but 
without relating this to the play of gender in its narrative. 

19. This is pointed out by Délègue 31-32 and n35. 

20. Lajarte has shown how Oisille's theoretical preeminence as the leader of the morning 
Bible-reading activity is effectively subverted in the work by the substantially greater 
space and importance given to profane discourse — the storytelling and debates — where 
her words carry no more weight than those of the other narrators. I find his argument 
more convincing than Paula Sommers', in "Feminine Authority in the Heptaméron: A 
reading of Oysille," Modern Language Studies, 13.1 (1983), 52-59, who sees Oisille 
as an "authoritative presence" in the work. 

21. See Thomas M. Greene "Forms of Accommodation in the Decameron," Italica, 45.3 
(1968), 297-313; Janet Levarie Smarr, "Symmetry and Balance in the Decameron," 
Mediaevalia, 2 (1976), 159-87; and Marga Cottino-Jones, Order from Chaos: Social 
and Aesthetic Harmonies in Boccaccio's Decameron (Washington: University Press 
of America, 1982). 

22. "Boccaccio's Idle Ladies," in The Roles and Images of Women in the Middle Ages and 
Renaissance, ed. Douglas Radcliff-Umstead, University of Pittsburgh Publications on 
the Middle Ages and Renaissance Studies at University of Pittsburgh, 1975), 76-79. 

23. 1.5; II.9; III.3,.9; VI.4; VII. 1-9; IX. 1-2; and see Radcliff-Umstead, 78-97. 

24. "The internal reception of the stories within the Decameron," Boccaccio in Europe: 
Proceedings of the Boccaccio Conference, Louvain, December 1975, ed. Dr. Gilbert 



36 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Tournoy, Symbolae A.4 (Leuven/Louvain: Presses universitaires de Louvain, 1977). 
145. 

25. The tale's summary states: "Madonna Filippa dal marito con un suo amante trovata, 
chiamata in giudicio, con una pronta e piacevol risposta se libera et fa la statute 
modificare." 

26. Similar unresolved conflicting viewpoints exist in Marguerite's allegorical play, par- 
ticularly in one of the last ones, "Comédie de Mont de Marsan" (1548), written not 
long before her death. Robert D. Cottrell's study. The Grammar of Silence: A Reading 
of Marguerite de Navarre's Poetry (Vs/ashington: Catholic University Press of America 
Press, 1986), emphasizes her attempts to "sec through words" in order to perceive the 
ultimate divine "Silence" (311-12); the debates in the Heptaméron also show that 
human narrative codes can provide no absolute answer. 

27. Colette H. Winn discusses this in "La Loi du non-parler dans VHeptaméron de 
Marguerite de Navarre," (Kentucky) Romance Quarterly, 33.2 (1986), 157-68. By 
contrast, two articles in Chimères 15.2 (1982), by Robert Bernard, "Feminist Rhetoric 
for the Renaissance Woman in Marguerite de Navarre's Heptaméron'', 73-89 and 
Martha Perrigaud, "The Self-Made Cuckold: Marguerite de Navarre and Parole 
féminine", 55-71, emphasize the ways in which female protagonists assert their rights 
through rhetoric in the Heptaméron. While I agree that Marguerite has depicted female 
characters in the tales who forcefully and convincingly express their desire, my 
argument is that the tales and commentary show very clearly that this mastery of 
"rhetoric" by women only increases the social obstacles and ostracism they face. 

28. The reference is to Luce Irigaray's description of women's "mimesis" of male-authored 
discourse in "Pouvoir du discours, subordination du féminin," Ce sexe qui n 'en est pas 
un (Paris: Minuit, 1977), 74: 

Jouer de la mimesis, c'est donc pour une femme, tenter de retrouver le lieu de son 
exploitation par le discours, sans s'y laisser simplement réduire. C'est se resoumettre 
... à des "idées", notamment d'elle, élaborées dans/par une logique masculine, mais 
pour faire "apparaître", par un effet de répétition ludique, ce qui devait rester occulté: 
le recouvrement d'une possible opération du féminin dans le langage. ... elles ne se 
résorbent pas simplement dans cette fonction. Elles restent aussi ailleurs. ... 



Guillaume Budé à son médecin: un inédit 
sur sa maladie 



GUYLAVOIE 



c 



''est, semble-t-il, dans le Catalogue^ de l'exposition sur Guillaume Budé 
tenue à la Bibliothèque nationale en 1968 qu'est signalée pour la première 
fois l'existence de la copie d'une lettre du célèbre humaniste à son médecin 
et ami Guillaume Cop^. Cette lettre compte parmi les plus intéressantes de 
l'humaniste français et il vaut la peine, après une description de la copie, 
d'en faire une brève analyse avant d'en présenter la traduction. 

La copie retrouvée figure dans l'exemplaire personnel de Budé de son De 
Philologia publié en 1532. A la fin du volume, en dessous du privilège royal 
imprimé sur les deux tiers de la dernière page, commence la lettre qui se poursuit 
sur les trois pages blanches suivantes pour se terminer sur la garde. Après 
quarante-cinq lignes en latin, entrecoupées de quelques mots grecs, Budé utilise 
le grec jusqu'à une conclusion de vingt lignes oii grec et latin alternent à parts 
égales. Attribuable à deux mains inconnues, dont l'une est plus soignée que 
l'autre, la copie est parsemée de ratures — plus de deux cent cinquante — et retient 
quelques fautes suggérant que les copistes n'ont pas bien compris le texte grec. 
En outre, les lignes 16 et 17 de la demière page souffrent d'une lacune ou d'une 
erreur de transcription qui les rend incompréhensibles. De la date de la copie, la 
seule chose dont nous puissions être certains est qu'elle est postérieure à 1532, 
année de la publication du De Philologia. 

La lettre elle-même n 'est pas datée, mais on peut connaître approximativement 
le moment oii elle a été écrite par le détail suivant que fournit Budé: "il y a déjà 
presque sept ans que je souffre de ce mal"^. Or, le 14 mars 1510, Budé avait noté 
dans une lettre à Lascaris: "voilà déjà cinq pleines années que je suis affligé d'une 
mauvaise santé presque continuelle'"*. Indication confirmée dans la lettre à 
Erasme du 7 juillet 1516: "... cette funeste maladie qui, depuis onze ans, m'a 
embarrassé de tous les ennuis possibles"^. De Même, le 2 février 1520 il écrit à 
Louis Vives: "J'ai aussi été malade depuis le début de l'hiver, ce qui, depuis 15 
ans, m'arrive à peu près tous les deux ans"^. Le début de la maladie de Budé 



Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVI, 1 (1991) 37 



38 / Renaissance and Reformation 

prend donc place en 1505^. On peut ainsi situer la lettre à Cop en 1512, puisque 
Budé est malade depuis sept ans au moment oii il l'écrit. 

Cette date explique que la lettre ne figure ni dans les Epistolae de 1520, ni 
dans les Epistolae Posteriores de 1522. Le 10 janvier 1521, Budé explique en 
effet à Louis Vives que son premier recueil contient seulement des lettres 
écrites au cours des deux années précédant la parution et il note: "je ne garde 
pas de copie des lettres que j'envoie à mes amis les plus intimes"^. Celle qu'il 
avait adressée à Cop compte pourtant parmi ces textes soignés, parmi ces 
morceaux d'apparat dont les humanistes étaient fiers et souhaitaient la cir- 
culation, comme le suggère la remarque de Budé vers la fin: "Je serais certes 
digne de votre indulgence, à toi et aux autres savants qui verront cette lettre"^. 

Par son allure générale, la lettre à Guillaume Cop est déjà ce que seront 
les longues missives adressées quelques années plus tard à son frère Louis, 
à Christophe de Longueil ou à Tunstall'°. Encore en 1529, l'épître "aux 
jeunes hellénistes" qui termine les Commentarii linguae graecae présentera 
des ressemblances frappantes avec elle". Le vocabulaire comporte nombre 
de mots fort rares comme /làjuaxa, ou encore des mots forgés, comme 
ooXoiKOyWaoTiYcov, et le style en est particulièrement soigné, avec à 
l'occasion d'interminables périodes. Mais, surtout, on y retrouve déjà 
nombre de thèmes qui s'avéreront des constantes sous la plume de Budé. 

Ecrivant à son médecin, celui-ci traite naturellement longuement de cette 
maladie sur laquelle il reviendra sans cesse. Tout comme reviendront con- 
tinuellement sa passion pour la philologie, son dévouement pour la cause des 
lettrés, l'indulgence qu'il sollicite de leur part, l'inquiétude de posséder une 
maîtrise insatisfaisante de la langue grecque, la comparaison avec les 
compétitions du stade où il ne peut manquer d'être vaincu, le rôle joué par 
l'étude dans sa maladie, l'impossibilité de tirer de la pratique des lettres un 
revenu convenable, son indignation contre les adeptes d'une langue négligée, 
ses plaintes contre l'aveuglement injuste du sort, la soumission à la 
Providence, l'incapacité oii il est de contenir sa plume une fois lancée. Par 
rapport à la correspondance publiée en 1520 et 1522, cette lettre fait presque 
figure de programme en ce qui touche les thèmes d'ordre général. 

Bien qu'elle soit omniprésente dans l'oeuvre de Budé, la maladie y plane 
en quelque sorte comme une ombre aussi insaisissable que menaçante. On 
sait que tout son entourage s'en inquiétait vivement, aussi bien ses proches 
que son épouse, sans compter les médecins qui le menaçaient de mort^-. Mais, 
contrairement à son inséparable pendant hollandais, Budé ne donne jamais 
d'indices sur la nature de son mal'^. Pourtant, il est certain que Budé 
s'intéressait vivement à la médecine et en possédait des connaissances 



Renaissance et Réforme / 39 

sérieuses. Son père, Jean Budé, "grand acheteur de livres"^'^, qui approchait 
les soixante-dix ans au moment où Budé se mit à l'étude, "avait été malade 
sans répit depuis l'âge de cinquante ans et, partant, avait étudié la médecine 
et s'y connaissait"^^. Sur quarante et un manuscrits retracés par H. Omont 
comme ayant appartenu à Jean et à Guillaume Budé, neuf sont d'ordre 
médicaP^. Relevons aussi la lettre du 14 mars 1510 à Jean Lascaris, où Budé 
écrit: "J'escompterais grandement, si tu jouissais d'un loisir un peu suivi, que 
tu voies à me faire copier quelques livres de Galien (...). De nombreux titres, 
je voudrais surtout une copie des suivants:De differentia morborum, De 
optima corporis nostri constitutione, De elementis secundum Hippocratem, 
De facultatibus naturalibus, Ars Parva." Et plus loin: "la lecture de la 
Thérapeutique m'a intéressé aux théories de cet auteur"^^. On sait aussi que 
Budé tenait en haute estime Linacre qu'il avait connu à Paris et dont il avait 
lu des traductions de Galien ^^. En outre, parmi ses amis parisiens, Budé 
compte non seulement le médecin Guillaume Cop, mais aussi Jean Ruel, 
"étroitement associé à mes études", dira-t-il^^. 

Dans ce contexte, le silence de Budé sur la nature des maux dont il souffrait 
peut étonner et la lettre à Guillaume Cop occupe une place particulière, puisque 
c'est le seul endroit où Budé fournit des précisions sur les maux qui l'acca- 
blaient^^. A la page deux de la copie, les lignes 23 à 25 rappellent que la maladie 
remonte à sept ans. Ce rappel ne s'explique vraiment que si l'accès décrit est la 
manifestation habituelle du mal. Il faut toutefois se demander si la description 
que Budé fait de ses maux à son ami est compatible avec les symptômes relevés 
par Louis Le Roy dans sa Vita Budaei, parue en 1540, année même de la mort du 
grand humaniste, et seul autre endroit où l'on trouve des détails sur cette maladie. 
Malgré sa longueur, ce texte vaut d'être cité. En voici la traduction: 

"Quand son amour de l'étude finit par l'emporter sur son attachement à la vie, 
quand la découverte de ce bien l'amena à n'accorder aucun prix à l'existence, il 
fut atteint d'une longue et grave maladie dont il fut affligé pendant plus de vingt 
ans^*, au point que toute gaieté disparut de son visage, toute jovialité disparut de 
son âme, tout sourire disparut dans son accueil, toute urbanité et toute affabilité 
dans son commerce, au point aussi que son amour des lettres de jour en jour plus 
grand en était brimé. Si bien qu'il n'était même plus le reflet, l'ombre de 
lui-même, mais présentait l'aspect d'un mort vivant. Voici comment se présentait 
sa maladie. Sa gorge, qui enflait, lui causait une terrible douleur et il se mettait 
à tousser bruyamment^^. Il en éprouvait la nuit une telle frayeur que le matin il 
s'étonnait d'être indemne en pensant à sa respiration bloquée et soudain 
libérée. Bien au fait, son épouse pressentait l'arrivée des crises et soulageait 
le mal de son mari par de fréquents changements de position et par des tapes 



40 / Renaissance and Reformation 

aux épaules. De cette maladie venait une grande pâleur, la chute des cheveux, 
la maigreur et l'engourdissement de tout le corps, une extrême faiblesse de 
tous les membres. Les médecins, à qui il l'avait maintes fois exposée, ne 
pouvaient croire à un si grand mal dont ils ne retraçaient aucun exemple. Les 
crises survenaient à peu près tous les deux mois. Il souffrait en outre d'un mal 
de tête incessant, qui le tourmentait terriblement quand il lisait ou rédigeait. 
Comme on attribuait cette maladie aux humeurs qui lui alourdissaient la tête, 
les médecins lui promettaient un grand soulagement de son mal si celles-ci 
trouvaient au sommet de la tête une issue par où s'échapper. Ils lui 
conseillèrent donc de se prêter à ce qu'on ouvrit au fer rouge une voie à travers 
l'épaisse enveloppe du dessus de la tête. Le crâne, disaient-ils, possède des 
ouvertures qui permettent aux vapeurs de s'échapper vers le haut. On procéda 
selon leur recommandation, ce qui fut un grand supplice^^. Mais aucun 
soulagement ne résulta d'un traitement aussi risqué et pénible. En effet, les 
vapeurs denses et lourdes montaient au cerveau et s'y accumulaient, faute 
d'un passage vers le haut. En même temps, elles s'y épaississaient, puis se 
liquéfiaient pour être entraînées par leur propre poids dans le front, les tempes 
et les yeux, de sorte que la somnolence le gagnait sur son livre et que les plus 
grands efforts ne pouvaient l'empêcher de s'endormir^'*. 

La description de Budé et celle de Louis Le Roy ont toute l'apparence de se 
compléter. Si l'on met ensemble les deux textes, on peut comprendre que Budé 
a souffert d'un mal chronique de l'âge de trente-sept ans jusqu'à, semble-t-il, 
l'âge de 61 ans environ^^. Un violent mal de tête était installé pour ainsi dire en 
permanence. La pâleur et la maigreur de Budé se remarquaient. Les crises 
commençaient par une vive douleur à la gorge, avec enflure et difficulté à 
respirer. S'ensuivait une forte toux qui se terminait par des expectorations 
purulentes amenant un brusque soulagement. Budé éprouvait alors des nausées 
"à en défaillir". Il était ensuite vaincu par une insurmontable somnolence pendant 
quelques jours. Enfin, se manifestait une douleur qui frappait tantôt les yeux, 
tantôt les gencives, tantôt le ventre et tantôt "toutes les parties à la fois". La seule 
divergence porte sur la fréquence des crises. Tandis que pour Le Roy elles 
surviennent "à peu près tous les deux mois", Budé, dans la lettre à Vives du 2 
février 1520, parle d'une maladie qui revient "à peu près tous les deux ans". 
Peut-être la contradiction est-elle plus apparente que réelle. De l'ensemble des 
lettres de Budé, en effet, on croit comprendre que, dans sa maladie, il connaissait 
régulièrement des accès particulièrement graves. Il n'est pas impossible que 
la remarque de Le Roy rappelle ces accès. 

Si Budé se tait sur la nature de son mal, il nous éclaire abondamment sur 
les circonstances oii il se manifeste. Les médecins, dit-il, établissent un lien 



Renaissance et Réforme / 41 

étroit entre l'activité intellectuelle et son mal: "La pratique de la philologie 
en était alors tenue responsable par les médecins... "^^. De même, il écrit à 
Longueil: "Je passe sous silence les fréquentes interruptions de mon travail 
dues aux médecins qui me menaçaient de trépas si je ne modifiais incontinent 
mon régime de vie et ne renonçais pas aux livres"-^. L'avis des médecins est 
partagé par son entourage: "Et, répètent proches et parents, (...) je me meurs 
misérablement pour elle (la philologie). En effet, comme ils disent, depuis 
que je l'ai introduite chez moi, je n'ai pas l'apparence d'avoir pris de sages 
décisions, ni pour ma fortune ni pour ma santé. (...) Dans la lassitude 
engendrée par une maladie si longue et si pénible, qui n'aurait pas cédé aux 
ordonnances des médecins, aux supplications de sa femme ou aux conseils 
de ses amis, comme s'il avait fait son deuil de ses espérances littéraires?"^^. 

Il semblerait que l'intensité des crises allait de pair avec l'intensité du travail 
intellectuel. Quand, en 1508, il rédigea ses premières Annotations aux Pandectes 
"en plus ou moins sept mois"^^, il entend leur donner une suite "si seulement me 
le permettent ma disponibilité et une santé qui me contraint non seulement à 
interrompre l'oeuvre commencée, mais même à y renoncer, à l'abandonner"-^^. 
De même, le travail gigantesque que constituent les Commentaires de la langue 
grecque a produit des effets désastreux sur sa santé: "Je tendais plus loin", écrit-il 
dans la postface, "lorsque le mal m'a frappé avec une telle violence que, si je ne 
m'étais arrêté aussitôt, le destin m'aurait emporté"-^'. Par contre Budé est 
manifestement en bonne santé quand il s'occupe de l'aménagement de sa 
propriété de Saint-Maur^^ et, sauf erreur, ne connaît jamais de manifestation de 
ce mal quand il se livre à des activités autres que l'étude. Même que, lors de sa 
participation à l'ambassade qui devait réunir à Montpellier les ambassadeurs de 
François F"^ et de Charies Quint, il écrit à Guillaume du Maine: "J'ai pris la 
décision (...) de ramener à la pratique des lettres mon esprit depuis longtemps 
déjà absent de son poste (...). Mais, pauvre moi, je crains qu'elle ne me cause 
encore des tracas, cette vieille maladie"^^. C'est dire assez clairement qu'il se 
porte bien quand il se tient loin de sa chère philologie. 

D'ailleurs, sa santé se rétablira quand il lui aura fait ses adieux. Après les 
Commentaires de 1529, il se tourne vers une réflexion philosophique qui, en 
1533, aboutira au De transitu hellenismi ad christianismum. Ce traité avait été 
précédé, en 1532, du De philologia où Budé note: "... cette maladie qui m'a 
accablé pendant presque vingt-huit ans"^"^. La formule ne peut qu'indiquer 
que le mal ne se manifeste plus. On en trouve la confirmation dans Louis Le 
Roy: "... il se trouva plein de vigueur à la fin de sa vie et il affichait une bien 
meilleure santé dans sa vieillesse qu'au milieu de son âge et son tempérament 



42 / Renaissance and Reformation 

sec et sa vigueur lui auraient assuré plusieurs années encore si une maladie 
fortuite ne l'avait emporté"^^. 

Un dernier aspect de la maladie de Budé doit être mentionné: c'est l'insistance 
avec laquelle il répète que celle-ci a constitué un obstacle à des réalisations plus 
considérables. Nous avons dit déjà qu'il la présente comme cause de 
l'interruption des Annotations aux Pandectes et des Commentaires. Mais II y 
revient également à maintes reprises dans des contextes plus généraux. Dans ces 
cas, la maladie est généralement associée à sa situation d'autodidacte-^^, pour 
expliquer la modestie de son savoir. Voici un passage caractéristique: "Le destin 
et les circonstances m'ont désavantagé, privé que je suis de livres d'abord, de 
maîtres ensuite et, enfin, de compagnons d'études — c'est là le pire. Je passe sous 
silence les fréquentes interruptions de mon travail dues aux médecins qui me 
menaçaient de trépas si je ne modifiais incontinent mon régime de vie et ne 
renonçais pas aux livres"^^. Ces remarques s'accompagnent le plus souvent d'un 
appel à l'indulgence pour la modestie de ses réalisations. 

C'est ce que nous savons de la maladie de Budé. Laissons à plus compétent 
le soin d'en percer la nature^^ et voyons la lettre à Guillaume Cop. 

G. BUDAEUS G. COPPO S. 

P. 1 Dudum cum me inuiseris aegrotantem: eo eram corporis animique / habita: 
ut mihi tussim tandem tabificam metuendam prae me / ferrem. postera lui 
aduentus nocteusque eo inualuit morbus ut / perpeti eademque 
5 acerrima tussi nullo ferme screatu uexatus / conuulsusque: matutino etiam 
nausea ad deliquium/ ferme animi exagitatus: aut exanimationem potius: 
cum grauissimum /atrocissimumque quoddam exemplum numen (ut ita 
dicam) ipsum / tussis editurum in me exputarem: 
10 repente intra biduum / grassatoria illa mali atrocitas concidit elanguitque, 
ita/ demum screatu iam facili ac purulento recreatus: defun/ctum me 
pernicie haud dubia spe ferebam. quoad (ex / insomnia arbitror diuturna) 
in gravedinem delapsum, aut / etiam relapsum cum ueterno quodam me 
sensi: hoc génère dies / 

P. 2 aliquot marcescens: cum mihi non iam homo: sed ursus:// aut xœv 
(t)(oXot5T(ov àXko XI ^â)OV esse viderer: (tametsi som/niculosus 
magis dormitatorque etiam et oscitator, quam tenore ullo / memorabili: aut 
gravitate somni oppressus) 
5 cumque mihi displicens: / nulli iam ^ikox^vxiaç, incolumi retinaculo: 
animum (prope dixe/rem: atque adeo eL ôé/iiç ècrrl >cÉyeiv) 
apocarteresmo impetu caeco / animi subinde mihi consciscerem: "kà^ov 
Kal âX-cytaç â/iEipôvrœv / akXr\ka, âpxi /ièv xô ôpxi 
ÔÈ xô, ôiaYvoîJç Kal xà av bEboyjutva nakiy I 
10 âvaOÉ/iEvoç, xâ)v xe ôo^avOcov auOiç àjioôo^âvOwv. 

Cum igitur / huiusmodi fere essem mortis quidem securus: morbi uero / 



Renaissance et Réforme / 43 

anxius: in universum autem nulla lucis cupiditate affectus: / ibi vero 
consilii tui memor: clystere prius usus jitJEX.ov BepZ/n^v, id est solium 
uaporatum ingressus: hemisphaerico 

15 machi/namento capiti supposito, quo super solium eminebam: ut ea / 

quoque parte ex animi tui meique sententia uaporem excipe/rem: cum diu 
ac multum (tamen citra lassescen/tiam) desudassem: eo die toto clausum 
me continui, modo / aliquantisper commodiorem aut commodiusculam 

20 ualetudinem / adeptus: iamque blandiende profectu 

jtE())povr|//aTia//£voç ô ÔEi/>^aioç èyw, ecce autem tertio in 
aliud; atque inde in aliud / malum eiuscemodi generis incido: nunc in 
oculos: nunc / in gingiuas: nonnunquam decumbente in ventriculum / 
morbo: interdum etiam in omnes simul partes: 

25 ut mihi / [veni] rem ad triarios rediisse iure dicere possim, praesertim 

septen/ni iam ferme pernicie confecto: id quod ex me coram audisti / Cum 
interim nihil non expertus, ne morbi quidem cau/sam deprehendere 
potuerim: (ut mihi xfiv èjioxriv r&v oKEJt/TiKcàv capessere 
lubeat: et in causam pyrrhoniorum 

30 incumbere) / duntaxat absque te foret: qui mihi a fervore cerebri 

metuendum esse / admonuisti: quod tantopere miser confouendum esse 
rebar: / quamquam iam pridem iecinoris praecalidi uitium in causa esse 
mali / haud dubia coniectura existimarem. Év xoiatJXT] ôf| cuiopiçi 
KaÔEcrrriKwç, âxE ék xov 

35 KaxaXriTtTiKoû é(j)£/ktlkôç tlç â:io(})av0E tç, oi)K exiûv ôxi Kal 

XPTiaat;ir|v xolç jrapoijoi, âjiâvxwv yè /uoi xwv jiEJiEipa/zEvcov, eIç xô 
XEÎpov jiEpiEX,/6ôvxcL)v, juôvoç aoi JtEpiX,oi:ioç ÉoïKaç, xô ye vîjv 
Êxov, Eivai, È(|)'ôv Ka/9ajiEpEl Kpr\0(^vyzx6v xi EÛJipôaixov 
àva(^vy6)v, xfiv è/^v ÔEivojiâ/eEiav èv ÔÉovxi av ôÔDpot/ir|v" ejieI 

40 xoiyE yMÉXPi TotJxou â;ioaKETja/aa//Evoi xô (j)opxiKÔv xfiç (t)ap/iaK£ taç 
Tr]vakX(i)ç ènorvi&>jU£Qa, xfjv Kapôtav / É(j)'ÈaDxâ)v oi^ Kaxà xô 
napayyeX/ua xô JiuOaYOpou éôtiôgkôxeç. xt / ovv ôf] (3oîjX,ei JipôxEpov, 
xi ô'ijcrxEpov //E//ipi//oipf)aa). apa ye ôxi/ Jiâvxcov juôXicna ijjiâpxojv 
ÉycoyE (j)L>iôajiODÔoç, Kal xf|c Êpco//£vr|ç / oijk àv£v Jiôvcov àjur\xàv(jùv 
ôaœv xDxwv, vî)v fièv éjriKpaxoîJvxoç / zv fiàka xov Éptoxoç, 
KEKpaxTiKutaç 
P. 3 ô'Épacrxoî) o<^6àpa xf|ç // Êp(o//£vr|ç Kal ôf) â(j)Ti//EpEÎ)£iv âvaYKâÇo//ai 
((bç olaOa) juf\ xi ôf] / àjioKoixEÎv; f| ôxi /uexà oov xe Kal xâ)v àKko)v 
xâ)v ojiGuôatcov [oxaôioôpo]/ xô xf)ç KO/iii)f)ç jiaiÔEtaç oxâôiov 
ôiaxpÉxojv, £v xoTJXOLç ÔÈ lawç oi)xl xf|v / 
5 èaxâxr|v ôô^av £V£YKd//EVoç, Kalxoi Jtap'ôXov oxeôôv xôv ôpô/iov / 
cruxvolç XE Kal ôeivoîç àppwcnfyuaoïv napevoxXovjuevoç, vvv év 
juÉOip I xô) TOvœ KaxajiEoœv, /uakXov ôè avxcb xô) Ka/mxf)pi 
pocncpGijaaç / xœv akXoiv Evryiepibç, (^EpojuévMv juôvoç, ky(b 
ànoXziKOjuai ovàe xà Êaxaxa yoijv / oîôç xe œv èXjtîaai oi/ioi xfiç 

10 âxDxtaç, oiaç xf)ç è^ariôoç é^ÉJtEaov./ Kal ék xoîj Kaxa?vÔYOD ofjOEV 
jiapaipEef)ao/iaL, ô Kal xoîjç koXKovç, I jiapEiJÔoKL/^f)OEiv otô//EVOç 
xfjç rux^lÇ ÉJifjpEia xf\ç xà I jrdvxa f| xâyE jiX-Eicrxa àxâKxœç 



44 / Renaissance and Reformation 

^paÇ)Evovor\ç' cà xfiç OKXripâç / el/iap//Évriç Kal vf| ôta (àjieiri ôè 
âôpacn:£ia<)>Tf)ç àyvo)juocfvvr\<; ty]ç //oipaç / x] xavxà 

15 juoi evQvç (ô ov y'ûv ô//o>\.oyoîi-|ç) yEvojuèvip èkékXmoe, âvai/xio) ye 
ôf), Kal àKâKO) £Ti ôvTi. vîjv YOtpxoi crijvoiôâ juoi TcoXkà rà/ juèv 
£KÔ£ÔiTiTTXMÉva, xà Ô£ jiapav£vo/ir|//£va" (^iXeI juèvzoï £ji£a6ai / xtp 
nXr]jLijutkf]juaTi r\ xi//copia, oijk £xi ôè Jipor|Y£Îcj0aL. oiJx ^^^ / ^È ô^wç 
£K xf\ç (t)i?vo:toviaç ôxœ xœ £(j)OÔi(p xfiv jiapr|K/iaKuîâv x£ 

20 Kal / K£KOJico//£vriv fi>^iKiav Yr|pa)Ko//£lv £l60aaiv oi £ijxux£îç fcôv 
(|)iXoÀ.o/Yoi)vxa)v. KatxoL xoaoijxov xpôvov âcjjEiôoàç x£ Kal V£avLKâ)ç 
éjiioixL/oâ^£voç. xt ovv (t)atr| xiç av, œ àp£X,x£p£, £YKaX,£lv crÛY£ xf| 
jipovoLçi / //f) YÉvoixo, jLCY]àè ox3xco juaiveir\v. Jiœç Y^tp; ôç ye EûXaPcbv 
ànôyovoçj àno xy\ç jtaiôaYOYiaç év xr| 

25 ôp9r| ôôÇri cruÇœv ovv Qe(b àieyevôfir\v./ ox£pKxÉov ovv Eivai 

ji£jrEio//ai xoLç xoij acoxfipoç xoD iyiôiv jiapaYYÉV/zaoïv, xoûye xf|v 
KapxEptav rialv //â>Lioxa £lar|YTloo//£vou./ àkXà jueyàkr] ^ïv 
ÔEivojiaÔEiçt CTuvwv, oiJK ^x^^ ^È xà Jid9r|/ Kaxaoxfiaai Kax'E/zaDxôv 
xà jiapEVox^oDvxa xô) Xoyiojuib oIoveî xiç / oôijuaxi xe Kal ij^uxtl 

30 V£VoaT]K6ç, àjiavxfiaai ôy) Jipôç oe xôv (j)i>vô/oo(t)ôv xe Kal laxpôv 
f)^ia)aa, ôià xf|aÔ£ xfiç ÉJiioxoXfiç, £({)'^ xfiç / làoEcoç KaO'ÈKàxEpov 
TUXEÎv. xà Y£ jur\v juexà xaûxa éwoeîv ooi Éàoco,/ œ<a>jiEp oij 
jipoafiKov xô) voooijvxi ^)Jlo/^l/^vf|aKElv xôv laxpôv xôv jipôç xoî) I 
iJYioioovxoç. ov jUY\v akk'ÔKiaç ào)bEKajLcf]xcLv6v, (j)aoi, 

35 xf)v ÉJitvoiav / jipooE^Eic. ôeî yàp av ev oiôa ôxi xoioijxou xivôç, 
Kal (bç ELJiELV jiaiœviKoî) / EvOu^fi/^axoç eïç xt)À,ikoî)xov xô ÔEIVÔV. 
(|)ÉpE ôf) O) ôai/^ôviE Jipôç xoDxovl / àjtôôuoai xôv àycôva xôv 
ÔDOKaxajiàXaioxov, xfiv ûôpav, (bç à>ir|eâ)ç / ÉK£ivr|v, xf\v àoibijuov, 
xf)v nakijU(^và. r|ç eI RpaKÀ-fiç Geiçi xivl juoipç. I 

40 YÉvoio, Kal aijxôç ye ôf|JtoD ' IôXewç xiç Êao//ai, àjiavxà aoi év 
ÔÉovxi / iJjiovpYcôv. oTÛÔÉJtoxE ovôÈ àKoXaoxatvcov, otjôè 
èKÔiaixw/^Evôç xi,/ oiJÔ'ôÀ,a)ç Jiou àxaKxcov jiapà xoijjitxaY//a xô aôv. 
f|v ÔÈ xoîjxo Kaxop/Owariç, xô ÉJiixEtpTy/a, Kai jlie f|xoi vyify, f\ Kal vr\ 
ôta Ti/iixpr|oxov / Kal oIoveI fi/ziavôpov àjto(j)fivTiç, 

45 (ùjtèp Yàpxoi xf)v laxpiKfiv ol/iai / xô, àKÉpaiov àjioKaxaoxf|oai 
xôv oûôÈ ôX,ÔKX,r|pov vno xwv yovécov / yEyovçyza.) àv yoûv ;tEpl 
xfivÔE xf)v KaxE^iav eoke/^evoc,/ ôpOcàç Éoxoxcxo//£voç xiJXHÇ, Kal 
oloç xfjv alxlav KaxiÔEÎv xf)ç / vôood, Kal KaOajiEpavEl xô 
ôp//Tixf)piov ÉYKaxaoKfiH^avxoç xou 
P. 4 ÔEivoî) / ôiEpEDvfiaai xe Kal KaxaX-a^Eiv, juàKkov ôè èàv oloç // f\ç 
f|xoi XY)v jir)Yf|v aTJxfjv xf)v ^pvovoav xalç vôaoïç à(j)aDaivEiv, f| xà 
/ fiàjuaxa yoîjv xoî) pEvpiaxoç xoîjôe, xov àEvàou xe Kal xàxot JiEp 
ôiijiExoûç / LoxàvEiv, laOi où Jiapaxpfy/a à^ia(j)îiYTlxôv xe 
5 juioQôv, Kal / oijx yyxxw xoaoûxou Kaxop66/^axoç olaô/^Evoç. etjOùç 
Yàp àv KLVÔDVEtJaatç / EiJoxoxTicjaç xov okokôv ' IjtJioKpàxr|ç àvxl 
xoiîxou ô vîJv KaX,f| //Exo/vo/ià^Ea6ai. oijxco aoi xoi)jtixEUY/^ot 
ÔLaxE6pTj>Lf)OExai, àvco Kal Kàxco / xf|c jiôXecoç ji£pip6r|xov, Kàv eI 
àjioaKo:i(î)T]v àjuèkEi xô l>tapôv juov Kal / àôpôv xov Kpooojnov xov 



Renaissance et Réforme / 45 

10 Jipô TOI), KaxeKTLKOTJ, 6aD//aaéiVTa)v cuiav/xcav, Kal xf]v te alxîav Tf|c 
EiJE^taç Tfiç àf]Qovi„ Kal xôv ElariyiTCTiv / àvanvQojuèvwv, amô ôf) xô 
jipay/za, Kaôauxô xfiv EVEpyEatav oov I KaxTiyopfiaEiEv av. odç Kal 
KivôuvETJOEiv âv OE, ^y\ jioxE xE6vEâ)xa/ ôô^riç è^ (xbov àvaoxfioai, 
Kal Jia>itvavôpôv xiva, eI ôè Poi)>iei, ptpPiov / 

15 âjiEipyâaôai, àjuoia âjioÔEt^aç xf|c xÉxvr|ç xô) âpxiiyw. xoûxô yE fif\v 
j jravxEç ôaoi yE tov X,f\^aaxoç où/ tÎtxouç xuyxavouaiv ôvxeç / Kal 
xô) ôvxi (J)lXôxexvoi, oijx o^oi i^tôv jiEpivooxoiJvxcov ol jio>t>uOi, xfiç / 
(j)i>^oao(t) iaç âjtôxpojioi. cmvzkùyv ôè (j)aiTiv av, ôaoi xfjv 
âvxEcn;pa/i//iÉvriv aoi xf)v àyœyfiv, Kal /^f) Kaxà xfiv jiaiÔEtav 

20 xfjv ÊyKv/KX,ov fly/^Évol EÎatv. oi)XOl ôf) JtâvxEÇ ol xolç 

jipojtaiÔEiJ/iaaiv / xotç £X,Eu9Eptoiç ori3vxpo(|)OL, àvxl noïXibv, zv 
oiôa ôxi, Kal vf) ôta / âvxl jtâvxcov xpilwctTcav àXXaÇaivx'âv. ôôl of| 
jrpônrôç aoi Kal /léyioxoç / xf|ç âyxivotaç xe Kal (()i>^oxExvtaç 
/ziaOôç. Eixa xoi Kal aœaxpâ ooi ôià / ptou KEXPEwoxrioô/iEva 

25 àjioxtao), vjtEpEKaivcbv, âvxEVJtoicôv, ék xœv / iJjiapxôvTcov 

âvxEUEpyExtov, âvxEJti//Expâ)v xf)v xotpiv ÔJtoTj XE av Kal/ ÔTIT] TÔXXl- 
cbv bf\ aoi ÉvÉxvpov xfivÔE xfjv £JtLoxoX,f)V xjjtoxlOïXMi. èô)/ ôè XÉyEiv, 
eI xî jicoç Kal xà r\fitxzç>a éoikev[ov] xfjv Koivf)v ôvivdvai / Tf|v xtôv 
(i)iXoKaX,oiJvxa)v ajioDÔf|v, Kal Kaxà xoijxo of| xô 

30 //Époç ov I a/iLKpâv oe xôtpiv oloEaOai âv. Kal ôf) Kal (j)L>^oKaX.ta yE 
aûxfi / aE|3a^o/^£vr| aoi Oeô) jie({)i>ioxi//ti/^év(jl)ç oîjxcoç âv xâxcx Jicoç 
Ka>^>aEpfi/aaiç, eI xwv |3ap|3apo(t)ôv(ov Iva Kal ao>^oiKo/iaaxîy(ov ék 
/^£oo^) / xoî) ôÀ,É0pou âvaKxf|oaio â(j)ELÔf)aavxa èauxoîj. xiOel ô'éjiI 
xoijxoiç / Kal ôxi aoi aEooaqwÉvoç, xpeîâv xiva ÔEiy//axoç 

35 XOV Kaxà xf)v / xéxvt^v EÏaaûOiç JiapéÇo/iai, xœv âKkoiv ÛJi'àjioptaç 
fieQe/uèvoiv I vko oov àveikr\Lmèvoç. noKkà ôè Kal âXXa exojv cjuvEipai 
eIç x'aûxô / âvf|Kovxa, ô/icoç œÔE âvajiaûaai xôv Kokoi^ov ti^iodv eIç 
xà Jiôppo) xf| / juèv ôi'Eporcâ oov, xfj ôè, xf|ç ùjroOéaEcoç 
:rpo0u/ioi)//£vov à£t, ÔEÔiœç / jur\ JiÉpa Ikvod^évoij 

40 jUEyèQovç xà yeypajufitva èÇfiKoi (bç Kal / jur\KÉxi xovvojua xy]v 

£7iioxo>ifiv ocô^Eiv. xaijxa /uÈv ovv ypâipai / aoi otjk oIô'ôjicoç £:n;fiX.6É 
juoi, nf] juèv, mnaiy/uèva, I nx\ ÔÉ, éajrouôaa/iÉva, ov /Lcf\v à(^opjuf\ç, 
X,a|3o//£vo) xf|ç eIç xf]v / èmÔEi^iv, oîjxe ai; ooi xoû 
àvx£jiiox£>u>iEiv kvàôoijuov yXixojuÉVM I Kaçyaoyjdv. ov juà xfjv 
TjytEiàv XE xf|v xpiJiôOîixov vOv éfioi Kal / xfiv (^iX.oX,oytav xf\v jipô 

XOIJ 

P. 5 JtEpiojroiJÔaoxov. Jtcbç yàp; ôç y£ // ovôè xov ènaÎEiv iKavtbç xf|c 
xâ)V £À,À.f)va)v yK6ya:r\ç e/uaQov, juryti ye ôf) / cnjyypàii^ai. oîjxe jur]v 
oiJxcDç âyvwxa kjuol xà aà, wotte Kal àjiô xœv ajiovôatcov / fiyEÎaOai 
oiJxcD OE axoX,fiv âyEiv, cbç Kal evedoxoX-eIv âv xolaÔE 
5 xoîç JiaiyviôÔE/aiv. àXXà yàp Êv yuvaiKcovlxioi à;iô xwv ptpX,a)v 
KaOEipxOÉvxi XE Kal yuvai/KOJipEKcbc olKoupoiJvxî //oi, xoioûxô xi 
JiapÉoxr) Év ajiouôfiç juoipa I xiOEaOai, xoDxo /lév, îv'elxov 
ôiEyEÎpai xô âvExov xoû Qvfiov, xov ànô xe xov voof]/juaxoç Kal xf|ç 

OXO>^f|Ç É^EpyTlKÔXOÇ, XOiJXO ôè xf|V XV71Y]V èOÉXoOV XOLOIJXœ / 



46 / Renaissance and Reformation 

10 Jiapwoaaôai xœ ÊvacTxo>ifxMaTi. jrpôç ôé, Kai aol àvôpwjwp / 

(t)iX,É>^Xr|vi ovx TlKiora âv oûxcoç xctpieîaôai ù)6jur\v, ôv ôjtœç ôf) jtoxe / 
OEpajiEiJEiv /loi ÔÉÔoKxai, Kal Kapa^£^Xr{uÉv(ûq ye. y\ kqI ôiKaioç ôv 
eIt^v / CTUYYva)/<r|ç ôfiJiou xux£îv, xfiç xe Jiapà oov Kal xœv àKkwv 
oo{()â)V / xâ)v xavxri evxed^o/zevcov, jiapaixoîJ/iEvoç eI 

15 xf|ÔE KâKEÎ ^Evî^œv, noKka/xoQi xe Kal noKkaxxi êo^akjuai. haec animi 
causa ad te scripsi: ac cum morbi / ludificandi gratia: morbidaeque 
molestiae per avocamentum animi transmittendae / tum vero abigendi 
cubicularis taedii. interim dum spatium recreandae / valetudini praebeo vel 
potius dum aliène 

20 arbitratu xf)v + (j)i>^o;rovîaç crimini atque invidiae quam noxiam et 

tabificam eximere cupio. / oûk ecjxlv ôjicdç év xoaoïjxa) (l)iXoao<t)fioa) ôxi 
//f) n:EpiJiaxr|XLKcôç. xwv èôpatcav yàp xexvwv xœv / èv xœ yuvaiKEto) 
nàvv à^aQr]ç z'i/ui, àôuvâxcoç Éxœv, cbç èjil xô / jiXEÎcrrov Ka6f|a8ai, 
ji>^fiv fizxa^v avayvovc. latere hoc te nolo 

25 me / ex quo sane epistolam scribere adorsus sum: interdiu quidem certe 
satis / ac certe quidem ualuisse: ut iam prorsus Kaxa(j)opiKÔç esse 
desierim ac / Kco/iaxiKôç: siue illa affectio ex animi intentione ex 
operis oblectamen/to tantisper laxamentum mihi praebuit: siue morbi 
materia penitus / aut 

30 consumpta aut discussa est. Ceterum quidem, ut nonnulla ex / parte 
ludicram hanc epistolam, veluti seriosam habeas: quo mihi / aliquando 
succisiuis horis KapayytXjuarà xiva xfiç / ôiaixriç aut fortasse xov 
//Exaôiaixfxaaxoç perscribas. eI ôè //fi, / nokXà xatpEiv (^pâoaç xw xe 
èXkr\vio^(b Kal vjuiv xolç / 

35 ekXryvojuaQovoi, Kal xô ÉJiiJiav xr| (j)iXoXoYtçt, àXko xi ÉJtixTiÔEÛoo). / 
xoiJxo ovv bia^apxvpojuai, f\v //f) aoi juèkri xf|ç vy^^^Laç xfjç Ê//f|ç, / 
Jipiùxôv OE Kal vcjxaxov vvv z}Jkr]\i(jzi :ipooEiJi6v. Ippcoao. 

CORRECTIONS 

En plus de ses abondantes ratures, le texte semble conserver quelques erreurs. 
L'absence fréquente de l'iota souscrit et les fautes d'accentuation ne sont pas 
signalées. 

[ ... ]: delendum 

< >: addendum 

P. 2. 36 Kpr|a(J)i)YEXov: Kpr|00(j)tJYExov. 

P. 3. 3 xôv: xô I 18 (J)i>lo>^oyoijvxcdv: (t)iÀ,oX.OYOUvixa)v | 

Jiapr|K/iaKi3lav : jtapaK/irjKulav | 19-20 EJtLaixioà/iEvoç : 

ÈKioixiQàjUEvoç I 33 kvQvjufyuaxoç: tvQr\iuf]juaxoç \ 34 

àjiôÔDoai: otJtôÔDoaç | 40 iq/iiavôpov: fxataavôpov. 

P. 4. 4 r|xxtt): otjxo) | KivôuvEiJaaiç: Kr|vÔDVEi)aaLç | 5 Ka>if|: 

Ka>tX,f| I //Exovo/iâ^EoBai: /lExœvo/^a^EaOai | 6 

ôiaxE9pD>^f)OExai: ÔLaxE8pD>^Xf)OExai | 

P. 5. 18 (t)i>^oao(|)f|oa): (|)iX.oao<t) r|aaç | 29 vfÂv: f^alv. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 47 

GUILLAUME BUDÉ À GUILLAUME COP, SALUT! 

Quand tu m'as récemment visité au cours de ma maladie, j'étais de corps et 
d'âme dans un état tel que je présentais une toux dont on pouvait craindre 
qu'elle ne m'emporte. La nuit suivant ton arrivée, le mal a pris une ampleur 
telle que j'ai été péniblement secoué par une toux violente, ininterrompue et 
toujours égale, pratiquement sans aucune expectoration et que, le matin venu, 
j'ai finalement subi les assauts d'une nausée propre à me faire défaillir, ou 
plutôt à me faire rendre l'âme. Et au moment où je m'attendais à ce que la 
toux en personne, pour ainsi dire, montre en moi un modèle d'une gravité et 
d'une cruauté extrêmes, soudain, en deux jours, l'acuité tenace de ce mal est 
tombée et s'est évanouie. Finalement, soulagé par des expectorations 
désormais aisées et purulentes, c'est avec une confiance sans réserve que je 
me considérais à l'abri du danger — jusqu'au moment où (à cause, je pense, 
de longues insomnies) je me suis senti tombé ou, enfin, retombé dans une 
lourdeur accompagnée de somnolence. 

J'ai langui dans cet état pendant quelques jours. Alors que j'avais le 
sentiment de n'être plus un humain, mais un ours ou quelque autre animal 
dans sa tanière (bien que je fusse engourdi et même somnolent et alangui 
plutôt que vaincu par un sommeil d'une durée ou d'une profondeur notables), 
alors aussi que, las de moi-même chez qui ne restait intacte aucune attache à 
la vie, j'allais céder (pourrais-je pratiquement dire, si toutefois il est permis 
de dire telle chose) à une pulsion aveugle de l'âme et décider de mon sort en 
me laissant mourir de faim — raison et déraison alternaient, c'était tantôt ceci, 
tantôt cela, je prenais une décision sur laquelle je revenais, ce qui avait paru 
opportun paraissait désormais inopportun — alors donc, dis-je, que je me 
trouvais dans cet état, à l'abri de la mort mais inquiet de la maladie et, en 
somme, sans aucun désir de vivre, je me suis souvenu de ton conseil: après 
le recours à un clystère, je me suis plongé dans un bain chaud, avec sous la 
tête un appareil hémisphérique pour me maintenir au-dessus du bain de sorte 
que la tête aussi reçoive tout plein de chaleur. 

Après une sudation longue et abondante (sans toutefois me rendre à 
répuisement),j 'ai gardé la chambre toute la journée, éprouvant pendant quelques 
temps une amélioration, du moins une certaine amélioration, à mon état. Tout 
fier, pauvre moi, d'un progrès encourageant, voilà que le troisième jour je me 
mets à tomber d'un mal à l'autre selon l'enchaînement suivant: le mal allait tantôt 
dans les yeux, tantôt dans les gencives, parfois il descendait dans le ventre et 
même à l'occasion partout en même temps. Si bien que je serais justifié de dire 



48 / Renaissance and Reformation 

que j'en étais réduit à mes ultimes réserves, surtout qu'il y a bien sept ans 
déjà que je suis atteint de ce mal, comme tu me l'as entendu dire de vive voix. 

Et pourtant, après avoir tout essayé, je n'ai pas été capable de trouver la 
cause du mal (si bien que je me suis laissé aller à embrasser la retenue des 
Sceptiques et à adopter la cause des Pyrrhonien-^^), du moins si je ne tiens pas 
compte de toi, qui m'as prévenu du danger pour moi d'un réchauffement du 
cerveau, que moi — quel malheureux! — ^je croyais devoir également 
réchauffer. Il y avait d'ailleurs longtemps que j'attribuais hors de tout doute 
la cause du mal à l'anomalie d'un excès de chaleur au foie. 

Placé dans un tel embarras, vu le scepticisme auquel m'a mené mon 
analyse, ne sachant que faire dans cette situation, puisque tous mes efforts ont 
empiré le mal, j'ai l'impression de n'avoir plus que toi, du moins pour le 
moment, vers qui me tourner comme vers un refuge accueillant, pour me 
plaindre utilement de mes souffrances. Car jusqu'ici, l'intestin vidé, c'est en 
vain que j'ai eu recours aux désagréments des purgatifs — le coeur maintenant 
rongé, mais pas dans le sens du précepte de Pythagore"^^. 

A ton avis, donc, à quoi m'en prendre d'abord, à quoi ensuite? Est-ce parce 
que moi, ardent entre tous, ne profitant de mon amante qu'au prix d'efforts 
pratiquement impossibles, parce que, donc, maintenant que cet amour est 
absolument souverain et que l'amante a pleine domination sur l'amant, me 
voici contraint de m'en éloigner pendant le jour, comme tu le sais, et, à plus 
forte raison, de délaisser sa couche? Ou encore, parce que, alors que je 
parcourais avec toi et les autres enthousiastes le stade de la belle éducation — 
mais sans peut-être y avoir atteint les sommets de la renommée et en butte 
tout au long de ma course à de terribles et fréquentes défaillances — parce que, 
dis-je, maintenant tombé en plein élan, ou plutôt brisé contre la borne pendant 
que les autres poursuivaient avec bonheur, me voici laissé seul en arrière, sans 
espoir possible d'atteindre le but'*^ Hélas! quel revers! De quel espoir j'ai été 
frustré! Et sans doute serai-je rayé du palmarès, moi qui croyais m 'élever 
au-dessus de la masse: perfidie de la fortune qui mène tout, ou presque, dans le 
désordre! O rigueur du sort et, par Zeus (loin de moi Adrastée'^^), ô aveuglement 
du destin qui (ce dont tu conviendrais) m'a ménagé tout cela dès ma naissance, 
alors que j'étais encore ignorant de l'erreur et du mal. Bien siir, je suis conscient 
qu'aujourd'hui mes errements et mes fautes abondent. Mais le châtiment suit 
habituellement l'offense, il ne la précède pas. 

De mon attachement au travail, je ne tirerai pourtant pas le viatique par 
lequel ceux qui pratiquent la philologie"^^ avec bonheur ont l'habitude 
d'assurer la maturité, le déclin de leur âge'^^. C'est pourtant sans ménagement, 
avec vaillance, que j'ai peiné à accumuler mes provisions. "Mais, quoi!" 



Renaissance et Réforme / 49 

dira-t-on, "pauvre sot, ne va pas t'en prendre à la Providence!" Dieu me garde 
de telle folie! Et comment donc? Moi qui suis né de parents pieux, depuis 
mon enfance je n'ai cessé de vivre dans la droite voie près de Dieu. Je suis 
donc convaincu qu'il faut s'attacher aux préceptes de notre Sauveur, lui qui 
certes nous insufflera la constance. 

Mais, accablé par une maladie terrible, incapable par moi-même de mettre fin 
aux souffrances qui entravent mes facultés, comme un dont le corps et l'âme sont 
attaqués, j'ai voulu par cette lettre m 'adresser à toi, philosophe et médecin, dans 
l'espoir de trouver la guérison tant du corps que de l'âme. Je te laisserai réfléchir 
à ce qu'il faut faire, puisqu'il ne revient pas au malade de dicter le traitement 
au médecin. Néanmoins, veille à porter à la question une attention aux mille 
astuces, comme on dit, car, je le sais bien, il faut un homme de cette sorte et, 
pour ainsi dire, doué de la perspicacité de Paeon'^'', face à un tel mal. Allons, 
mon brave, retire tes vêtements pour affronter cet adversaire coriace, l'Hydre 
en vérité, si célèbre, sans cesse renaissante. Si par un plan divin, tu devenais 
pour elle un Heracles'*^, je serai moi-même un lolaos, qui t'assistera en tout 
opportunément, qui jamais ne se permettra de dérèglements, jamais le 
moindre écart de régime, jamais, bref, la moindre dérogation à tes ordres. 

Si tu mènes à bien cette entreprise et que, ou bien tu me guérisses, ou bien, 
par Zeus, tu me rendes une demi-utilité, tu fasses de moi en quelque sorte un 
demi-homme (car cela dépasse la médecine, je pense, que de donner 
l'intégrité à celui que ses parents n'ont pas engendré complet), si donc, après 
un examen de cette affection, tu arrives à un juste diagnostic et parviens à 
identifier la cause de la maladie et, en quelque sorte, à découvrir, à surprendre 
le repaire du mal qui m'a frappé, ou plutôt, si tu parviens à sécher la source 
elle-même d'où jaillissent les maladies, ou du moins à tarir l'aliment de ce 
flot ininterrompu et peut-être bien d'origine céleste,"^^ alors sache qu'à 
l'instant tu toucheras un salaire digne de mémoire et non en reste d'un tel 
succès. Car, sur-le-champ, tu risquerais, le but atteint, de prendre le nom 
d'Hippocrate'*^ à la place de celui que tu portes maintenant, tant on clamera 
ta réussite, célébrée d'un bout à l'autre de la ville. Et si l'on m'examinait — 
tous s'étonnant de la gaieté et de la santé de mon visage auparavant maladif 
et s 'informant de la cause de cette vigueur inaccoutumée et de son auteur — , 
d'elle-même la chose révélerait ton bienfait. De la sorte, tu aurais des chances 
de passer pour avoir ramené de l'Hadès un défunt et, si tu veux, de l'avoir 
rétabli dans la condition d'homme avec une seconde vie'*^, faisant preuve d'un 
art comparable à celui du Créateur. 

Voilà certes chose que tous ceux qui, insensibles à l'appât du gain, ont la 
véritable passion de l'art — à la différence de ces amateurs d'artifices, de la 



50 / Renaissance and Reformation 

masse étrangère à la piiilosophie, en somme, dirais-je, de ces gens dont la 
formation s'oppose à la tienne et qui n'ont pas suivi la voie de 
l'encyclopédie'^*' — chose donc que tous ceux qui ont été nourris des éléments 
d'une éducation libérale échangeraient, j'en suis convaincu, contre bien des 
richesses et même, par Zeus, contre toutes les richesses. Et ce sera là pour toi la 
première et la plus appréciable rémunération de ta perspicacité et de ton amour 
de l'art. Ensuite, la rétribution à laquelle tu auras droit pour toute ta vie, je te la 
verserai en te couvrant d'éloges, en te comblant à ton tour de bienfaits, en 
employant mes ressources à te rendre tes bons procédés, en te témoignant en 
toute circonstance et par tout moyen qui s'offrira une reconnaissance sans 
borne. Je t'en donne comme gage la présente lettre. Je passe sous silence que, 
si j'ai quelque apparence d'avoir soutenu l'ardeur commune des adeptes des 
belles lettres, en cela aussi ce n'est pas une mince gratification que tu 
récolterais. Et précisément, cet amour de l'art pour lequel ta vénération 
rivalise avec celle de Dieu, peut-être bien la plus belle offrande que tu pourrais 
lui faire serait-elle d'arracher du sein de la ruine un pourfendeur des barbares, 
un châtieur des béotiens-^', lui qui a agi au mépris de son propre bien. Ajoute 
à cela que, sauvé par toi, je servirai par la suite à illustrer la puissance de ton 
art, puisque tu m'auras recueilli quand les autres à bout de ressources 
m'avaient abandonné. 

Bien que j 'aie matière à m 'étendre encore longuement sur ce sujet, j ' ai jugé 
bon mettre ici un frein à ma plume toujours poussée de l'avant par mon 
affection pour toi et par le sujet lui-même. Je crains que, si je m'étends 
davantage, ce texte tourne de telle sorte que ma lettre ne mérite plus son 
nom^^. En fait, je ne sais trop comment il m'est venu à l'esprit de t'écrire tout 
cela -en partie plaisanteries et en partie propos sérieux. Je n'en ai certes pas 
trouvé l'inspiration dans le goût de l'étalage, non plus que dans le désir de te 
fournir une occasion de m 'écrire à ton tour. Non, par la Sante-*"-^ aujourd'hui 
trois fois désirée et par la Philologie hier si affectionnée! Comment donc 
l'aurais-je pu? moi qui n'ai pas suffisamment appris à comprendre la langue 
des Grecs — et encore moins à l'écrire — et qui n'ignore pas non plus ta 
situation au point de croire que tes obligations te laissent assez de loisir pour 
que tu puisses t'adonner à ces amusements. 

Mais, comme je suis confiné aux appartements des femmes, loin de mes 
livres et oisif comme les femmes, il m'est venu à l'idée de remplacer l'étude 
par ce genre d'occupation: d'un côté, je pouvais de la sorte secouer l'engour- 
dissement de mon esprit endormi par la maladie et le désoeuvrement et, de 
l'autre, chasser l'ennui par ce passe-temps! En outre, philhellène comme tu 
l'es, j'estimais que ce n'était pas le moindre moyen de t'être agréable, à toi 



Renaissance et Réforme / 51 

envers qui il me semble justifié d'avoir tout l'empressement possible — et 
avec un dévouement aveugle. Je serais certes digne de votre indulgence, à toi 
et aux autres savants qui verront cette lettre, si je reconnais que, ballotté ici 
et là, j'ai trébuché en maints endroits et à maintes reprises. 

C'est pour le plaisir que je t'ai écrit cette lettre, tant pour tromper le mal et 
en oublier les désagréments en distrayant mon âme que pour chasser l'ennui 
de ma chambre. Alors que je donne à ma santé le temps de se refaire, ou plutôt 
que, sur l'avis d'autrui, je cherche à réparer-^'* le tort causé par ma passion du 
travail, il ne m'est pas possible, pendant ce temps, de m'adonner à l'étude, 
sauf en marchant. Je suis en effet tout à fait étranger aux travaux sédentaires 
des appartements des femmes, étant incapable de rester presque toujours 
assis, si ce n'est pour lire. 

Je ne veux pas te cacher que, depuis que j'ai commencé à écrire cette lettre, 
ma santé a pris assez et même beaucoup de mieux, de sorte que j'ai cessé de 
me sentir profondément somnolent et léthargique: ou bien l'état créé par la 
tension de l'esprit due au plaisir de la tâche m'a procuré une certaine détente, 
ou bien la matière de la maladie est totalement épuisée ou dissoute. Pour le 
reste, dans cette lettre écrite pour l'agrément, puisses-tu voir un peu de 
sérieux, de sorte que tu profites de moments libres pour me coucher par écrit 
quelque ordonnance sur mon régime, ou peut-être sur un changement de 
régime. Sinon, je ferai bien des saluts à l'hellénisme, à vous, adeptes du grec, 
et surtout à la philologie, puis je m'adonnerai à autre chose. Mais, crois-en 
ma parole, si tu ne te soucies pas de ma santé, c'est aujourd'hui la première 
et la dernière fois que je m'adresse à toi en grec. Au revoir. 

Université de Montréal 

Notes 

1 . Voir le n" 102 de ce Catalogue, préparé par M. Gasnault, conservateur au Département des 
Manuscrits, et Mme Vcrrin-Forrer, conservatrice au Département des Imprimés (Paris 
1968). 

2. Ernest Wickersheimer a consacré à Guillaume Cop (c. 1466-1532) une substantielle 
notice biographique dans le Bulletin de la société française d'histoire de la médecine 
(1913, XII, pp. 336-342). Cette notice est reprise en substance dans son Dictionnaire 
biographique des médecins en France au Moyen-Age (Paris, Droz, 1935). Rappelons 
ici brièvement que ce médecin humaniste originaire de Bale était lié d'amitié avec les 
plus grandes figures de son époque, dont Lefèvre d'Etapes, Jean Lascaris et Jérôme 
Aléandre (tous deux lui avaient enseigné le grec), Erasme, qu'il eut l'occasion de 
soigner et qui lui dédiera son De Senectute. C'est d'ailleurs sans doute en vertu de cette 
amitié que François F^ chargera Cop de faire venir Erasme en France en 1517 pour 
diriger le collège projeté. A partir de I5I3, peut-être de 1512, il sera le médecin de Louis 
XII et, ensuite, de François l^^ Les commentaires de la Faculté de médecine de 



52 / Renaissance and Reformation 

l'Université de Paris (publiés par E. Wickersheimer, Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1915) 
permettent de suivre sa trace dans cette institution, d'abord comme étudiant, puis 
comme professeur. Guillaume Cop a publié des traductions, maintes fois rééditées, 
d'Hippocrate, de Galien, et de Paul d'Egine. 

3. Lignes 23-24 à la page 2 de la copie. 

4. Emile Legrand, Bibliographie hellénique II, Maisonneuve et Larose, 1962, pp. 332-333 
(Réimpression de l'édition de 1885). 

5. Opera omnia G. Budaei I, p. 378, Bale 1557 (réimpression Gregg, Farnborough, 1966 
et 1969). 

6. Ibid., p. 251. Curieusement, trois semaines plus tard, le 21 février, Budé écrira à 
Longueil: ". . . le mal incrusté en moi que je traîne pour une quatorzième année déjà 
sans pouvoir m'en défaire. "(/èirf. p. 273) 

7. Budé est moins précis dans une lettre à Nicolas de la Chesnaye en date du 5 juillet 1519: 
"Rien ne m'est plus à coeur que de recouvrer la bonne santé que j'ai perdue il y a quatorze 
ans et plus." (ibid. I, p. 265). De même, dans le De philologia, Budé dit avoir souffert 
pendant "presque vingt-huit ans"(ibid., p. 95). Ce qui, compte tenu du presque, n'exclut 
pas absolument l'année 1505. Il est encore plus vague dans le De asse — dont la préface 
est datée du 15 mars 1514 — où il fait remonter le début de sa maladie à "plus de sept ans" 
(ibid. II, p. 306). Restent deux références plus problématiques. D'abord, une lettre à Nicole 
Bérault, datée du 25 mars 1511 dans \esEpistolaede 1520, où Budé écrit: "Voici maintenant 
quatre ans que je livre un combat incertain contre un mal absolument terrible." (ibid. I, p. 
260). Ensuite, dans la lettre à Tunstall du 19 mai 1517, il estime sa maladie "d'autant plus 
pénible qu'elle est responsable des calomnies répandues depuis quinze ans aussi bien par 
les médecins que par mon entourage." (ibid., I, p. 362). Dans ce dernier cas, la maladie 
remonterait à 1503 et, dans l'autre, à 1507. Pour diverses raisons, toutefois, il me semble 
légitime de se demander s'il n'y aurait pas eu erreur de typographie dans la date de la lettre 
à Béreault. Notamment, sans compter qu'une date aussi tardive est contredite par tous les 
autres documents, elle suppose que Budé a connu une crise qui, éclatée pendant la rédaction 
ût^ Annotations aux Pandectes terminées en novembre 1508, durait toujours en mars 1511, 
puisque Budé note dans cette lettre: "cette mauvaise santé ne m'a pour ainsi dire pas laissé 
une heure depuis la parution de mon livre jusqu'à aujourd'hui. Malgré ces contradictions, 
je tiens comme probable qu'il faille placer en 1505 le début de la maladie de Bubé et, 
conséquemment,accepter de la même façon la date de 1512 pour la lettre à Guillaume Cop. 

8. Opera Omnia I, p. 329 B. 

9. Lignes 11-12, page 5 de la copie. 

10. Opera Omnia I, pp. 402-405; 356-364; 406-409. 

11. Ibid. IV, les deux pages suivant la colonne 1560. 

12. Voir notamment les lettres à Tunstall et à Longueil mentionnées plus haut. 

13. Voir H. Brabant: Erasme, humaniste dolent, Presses académiques européennes, 1971. 
Cette étude est reprise en substance dans: "Erasme, ses rnaladies et ses médecins", 
Colloquia Erasmiana Turonensis I, Paris, Vrin, 1971, pp. 539-568. 

14. Librorum emacissimus, dit Budé dans la lettre à Tunstall (ibid. I, p. 362). 

15. De philologia, dans Opera Omnia I, p. 35. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 53 

16. Henri Omont, "Notice sur les collections de manuscrits de Jean et Guillaume Budé", 
Bulletin de la Société d'Histoire de Paris XII, 1885, pp. 100-113. 

17. E. Legrand, op. cit., tome 11, pp. 332-333. La Thérapeutique de Galien avait été publiée 
par Nicolas Vlastos à Venise en 1500. Il est intéressant de noter que la faculté de 
médecine de Paris n'achètera les oeuvres de Galien qu'en 1526 et celles d'Hippocrate 
qu'en 1527 (voir Ernest Wickersheimer, La médecine et les médecins en France à 
l'époque de la Renaissance, Paris 1905, p. 42 (Slatkine Reprints, 1970). 

18. Voir lettres à Thomas Linacre du 10 juillet 1517 {Opera omnia 1, pp. 248-250) et du 9 
septembre 1518 (ibid., p. 250), à Erasme du 7 juillet 1516 (ibid., pp. 366-368) et à Lupset 
du 31 juillet 1517 {The Complete Works of Thomas More, éd. E. Surtz et J. H. Hexter, 
Yale Univ. Press, IV, pp. 5-14) et du printemps 1519 {Galeni Methodus Medendi, Paris 
1519 r$ du feuillet 2). 

19. Voir lettre du 31 juillet 1517 à Thomas Lupset citée dans la note précédente, p. 14. 
Jean Ruel (1479-1537) est l'un des deux premiers titulaires nommés aux chaires de 
médecine créées en 1505. Médecin de François l", Ruel sera nommé chanoine à 
Notre-Dame de Paris vers la fin de sa vie. Henri Estienne publia de lui en 1516 une 
traduction de Dioscoride souvent reprise. En 1536, Ruel donna chez Simon de Colines 
son De natura stirpium dont le seizième siècle a connu quatre réimpressions. 

20. Il faut toutefois signaler un passage d'une lettre à Erasme en date du 14 décembre 1522 
{Opera Omnia I, p. 378). Venant d'être nommé Maître des Requêtes, Budé écrit: "Mais je 
n'ai pu paraître dans cette dignité à cause d'un mal nouveau-né, rejeton de cette ancienne 
maladie si familière. Cette année, une humeur plus acre et mélangée de bile s'est mise à 
descendre aux intestins en y provoquant des coliques accompagnées de vomissements 
violents, si bien que personne n'ose me promettre la moindre prolongation de ma vie". Dans 
une autre lettre à Erasme du début de 1523 (ibid., p. 379), Budé rappelle cette maladie, qu'il 
distingue encore explicitement de son mal habituel: "C'est de la tête jadis, de l'intestin 
récemment et de partout où loge la vie que je souffre à en défaillir." 

21. Il faut considérer que la maladie de Budé a effectivement duré plus de vingt ans, 
puisque, commencée en 1505, elle a connu une de ses pires manifestations lors de la 
préparation des Commentaires terminés en 1529. Cette crise, particulièrement grave, a 
vraisemblablement pu être la dernière. Budé avait alors 61 ans. 

22. "Tousser bruyamment" repose sur une interprétation de "tumultuose" dans 
l'expression "jugulum tumultuose appetens" par laquelle Louis Le Roy qualifie la 
maladie. Je crois que cette interprétation ne fait pas de doute. Outre que "avec bruit" 
est le sens premier de "tumultuose," il est pratiquement impossible d'expliquer les tapes 
dans le dos ("humeros feriendo") dont il sera question plus loin si Budé ne toussait pas. 
Je dois toutefois noter que, à ma connaissance, ceux qui ont auparavant examiné ce 
passage ne l'ont pas compris ainsi. Eugène de Budé {Vie de Guillaume Budé, Paris 
1884, p. 23), Louis Delaruelle {Guillaume Budé. les origines, les débuts, les idées 
maîtresses, Paris 1907, p. 84), David O. Me Neil {Guillaume Budé and Humanism, 
Genève 1975, p. 7) et L.F. Flutre (" L'étrange maladie de Guillaume Budé", Aesculape, 
janvier 1938, pp. 3-6), ne parlent que d'un mal de gorge, pas de toux. McNeil estime 
que les tapes dans le dos avaient comme but d'amener Budé à se retourner pendant son 
sommeil pour éviter la suffocation, ce qui semble peu vraisemblable. 

23. Faut-il ajouter foi à ce détail? Que la Vita ait été publiée l'année même de la mort de 
Budé et, en plus, soit dédiée à Guillaume Poyet, intime de Budé, rend difficile une 



54 / Renaissance and Reformation 

invention susceptible d'être aussitôt démentie. Eugène de Budé (op. cit, p. 24) rapporte 
que la cautérisation du dessus de la tête était pratiquée pour certaines maladies. 

24. La Vita Budaei de Le Roy figure au début du tome 1 des Opera Omnia. Le passage cité 
commence au bas de la deuxième page du feuillet EE4. 

25. Voir note 21. 

26. Lettre à G. de Brie, 2 sept. 1521 {Opera Omnia I, p. 413) 

27. 15 octobre 1518, Opera Omnia I, p. 407. On notera avec intérêt que, en juin 1500, Erasme 
relate à Lord Mountjoy avoir écrit ses premiers adages pendant une maladie, "en 
trompant pendant ce temps mon médecin, qui me menaçait d'un châtiment si je touchais 
seulement à un livre." {La correspondance d'Erasme 1, trad. Marie Delcourt, Bruxelles 
1%7, p. 264). Ce médecin était précisément Guillaume Cop. 

28. Lettre à Tunstall du 10 juin 1517. Opera Omnia 1, p. 358. 

29. Lettre-préface aux Annotations., feuillet a2, r$. 

30. Ibid., feuillet a3, v$. 

31. Opera Omnia IV, page suivant la col. 1560. 

32. Voir la lettre à son frère Louis déjà mentionnée. 

33. Lettre écrite à Pierrelatte, le 22 avril 1519, Opera Omnia I, p. 409. 

34. (Ibid. I, p. 95: "... quae mihi annos fere duodetriginta infestior fuit." 

35. "Dans les grandes chaleurs de juillet, qui furent cette année-là les plus extrêmes de 
mémoire d'homme, le Roi s'était retiré sur la côte de Normandie pour fuir la chaleur 
et Budé, attaché à Poyet, l'avait suivi par ce même ciel si hostile. Soit à cause du vice 
de l'air, soit à cause de l'excès de chaleur qui brillait alors tout, soit à cause de la 
faiblesse due à un âge avancé, il contracta une fièvre intense et continue dont il ne se 
remit pas. Malgré toutes leurs assurances et leurs promesses de guérison, les médecins 
ne purent jamais le convaincre que cette maladie n'allait pas mettre un terme à sa vie." 
(Louis Le Roy, op. cit., FF4 v$). Le dernier détail entre en contradiction, au moins 
apparente, avec ce que Budé écrit à Poyet le 8 aoiit pour prendre congé: "Je rejoindrai 
ta suite (...) dès que ma santé me le permettra. D'un même coup, en effet, j'ai confiance 
que, à moi, ma santé d'hier, à toi, ma personne seront rendues." (Lettre inédite, B.N. 
Mss, nov. acq. françaises 22338, F. 12). 

36. Dès les premiers textes que nous avons de Budé (en 1503, dans la lettre à Germain de 
Ganay, Opera Omnia I p. 509, et dans la lettre à Pierre de Courthardy, ibid., p. 484), 
le désavantage d'avoir étudié seul est mis en relief. Budé y reviendra sans cesse, jusqu'à 
la postface aux Commentaires inclusivement. 

37. Lettre à Longueuil du 15 oct. 1518 {Opera Omnia I, p. 407). 

38. Il pourrait être tentant de comprendre comme psychosomatique la maladie de Budé. 
Un collègue longtemps professeur de pathologie le suggère. La sensibilité de Budé à 
l'opinion qu'on se fait de lui peut nourrir cette hypothèse. Rappelons, parmi tant 
d'autres, ce passage d'une lettre du 21 avril 1527 à Erasme: "... depuis huit mois déjà 
il me pèse de secouer mes papiers (les brouillons des Commentaires) déjà couverts de 
poussière, même si je m'étais lancé dans ce travail avec détermination. Que ne m'est-il 
possible de les abandonner sans craindre le déshonneur!" (Opera omnia 1, p. 381). La 
maladie présente toujours une justification étanche. Mais sans doute est-il sage 



Renaissance et Réforme / 55 

d'écouter les appels à la prudence de Léon-E. Halkin dans sa Psychohistoire et critique 
historique: le cas d'Erasme (Université de Liège. 1984.). 

39. Le sentiment qu'il était impossible de connaître la vérité amenait les adeptes du 
scepticisme à suspendre leur jugement. Pyrrhon d'Elis (c. 360-275), dont on connaît 
la pensée seulement par ses disciples, a été le principal théoricien de cette école. 

40. Mot cité par Plutarque (2.12e), qui pour en expliquer le sens rappelle les mots de Thétis 
à Achille: "Mon enfant, jusques à quand resteras-tu à gémir et à t'affliger, à te ronger 
le coeur?" (//. 24, 128-129). Une scholie à ce passage de Vllliade commente: "Pythagore 
exhorte à ne pas se ronger le coeur, c'est-à-dire à vivre sans chagrin et sans trouble." 

41. Cette comparaison avec les compétitions du stade — autre lieu commun chez Budé — 
sera particulièrement développée dans la lettre à Longueil du 15 octobre 1518 {Opera 
Omnia I, p. 406 ss.). 

42. Adrastée avait d'abord été une épithète de Némésis, personnification de la vengeance 
divine qui frappait l'homme oublieux des limites propres à sa condition. L'exemple le 
plus célèbre est celui d 'Agamemnon. 

43. Budé définit la philologie comme suit: "... et s'appelle philologie: c'est-à-dire, désir 
et amour des bonnes lettres, et fervente inclination à l'estude des sciences, qui se 
nomment libérales, pour ce qu'elles requièrent l'homme de franche condition et estime, 
hors de servitude, cupidité, et ambition." {Institution du Prince, Arrivour 1547. 
Réimpression Gregg, Farnborough, 1966). 

44. Plainte qui reviendra souvent. Budé rappellera à plusieurs reprises ses espoirs déçus 
quand il cherchera à obtenir des avantages du roi. Le plus bel exemple figure dans la 
lettre du 14 septembre 1521 à Jean Lascaris, dans laquelle Budé raconte comment il a 
été frustré d'une pension promise par François 1^"^ (cf. Opera Omnia I, p. 424 s.). 

45. Les poèmes homériques présentent Paeon comme un dieu guérisseur. Toutefois, par la 
suite, le nom apparaîtra en général comme simple éphitète d'Apollon. 

46. Parmi les douze travaux d'Héraclès figure sa victoire sur l'Hydre des marais de Lerne, 
en Argolide. lolaos, qui était son cocher, l'assista dans cette entreprise. 

47. Il est difficile de saisir la pensée de Budé, mais il s'agit très probablement d'une 
référence à l'influence des astres sur les maladies. Très répandues, ces croyances ont 
même retenu l'attention d'un médecin aussi rationaliste que Jean Fernel (cf. Léon 
Figard, Un médecin philosophe au XVIe siècle, Paris 1903, Slatkine Reprints, Genève 
1970). L'adjectif grec ôiijiexfiç a comme sens étymologique "tombé de Zeus". Budé 
pourrait donc vouloir dire "envoyé par Dieu". Mais c'est très improbable. Dès l'époque 
homérique, ôiijiexfiç était employé dans un sens purement matériel, essentiellement au 
sujet de l'eau ou de la lumière qui tombent du ciel. 

48. Dans une lettre à Jacques Wimpfeling en date du 21 septembre 1514, Erasme appellera 
justement Cop "l'Hippocrate de notre temps" {La correspondance d'Erasme II, traduite 
par M. A. Nauwelaerts, Bruxelles 1974, p. 31). 

49. Le texte donne ptpPiov, mot incompréhensible. L'hypothèse la plus satisfaisante à 
laquelle j'arrive est de lire ôîopiov. Le mot serait alors un néologisme (ils sont 
fréquents chez Budé) faisant pendant à Ôio0avf)ç {Od. 12.22). Puisque le mot explique 
jia>^ivavôpov, cette hypothèse est du moins satisfaisante pour le sens. 



56 / Renaissance and Reformation 

50. Le mot n'a évidemment pas encore le sens qu'il prendra avec Diderot. Il s'agit ici 
essentiellement de la connaissance de l'Antiquité. Voir Marcel François, 
"Encyclopédie", Renaissance Quarterly XXIII, 1970, pp. 276-277. 

51. Littéralement: "un fouetteur des Soloikoi" (du nom de la ville de Soloi en Cilicie), dont 
le mauvais parler est à l'origine du mot solécisme. 

52. L'habitude qu'avait Budé de se laisser entraîner par son sujet a donné au De asse 
"quatre fois la taille prévue" {Opera Omnia II, p. 106). De même, dans les Commen- 
taires, "l'enchaînement continuel des idées allongeait la toile" (postface aux Commen- 
taires, Opera Omnia IV, page suivant la col. 1560). On trouve des remarques analogues 
dans \t?, Anotations (v.g. Opera Omnia III, p. 217 et 218). 

53. Les Grecs personnifiaient la Santé dont ils faisaient une déesse. 

54. Ce passage comporte manifestement une lacune. Le signe + se trouve dans le texte. 



Dissolution and the Making of the English 
Literary Canon: The Catalogues of 
Leland and Bale 



TREVOR ROSS 



1 he formation of literary canons involves acts of both valuation and 
preservation. This much was understood in the medieval period, by scholars 
and clerics who maintained an order of auctoritas by continually reproduc- 
ing and providing commentaries on the works of the dead, and by poets like 
Chaucer and Skelton who, in their self-presentations, hoped to create condi- 
tions in England favourable to authorship and to their own survival. The 
existence of written works in a manuscript period was nonetheless 
precarious. All authors were at the mercy of scribes, who, like Chaucer's 
"Adam Scrivein," were notorious for their textual "negligence and rape." 
Worse yet, all writings were vulnerable to the effects of random destruction: 
the accidents of survival, the wages of state and religious censorship, and 
the violent eruptions of iconoclasm and mass plundering of library holdings. 
Most early historians and scholars responded to this destruction with a 
resignation that may seem to us galling: Alcuin saw the Viking raid on 
Lindisfarne and its great library in 793 as a sign of God's displeasure with 
a purportedly corrupt Northumbrian people.^ Modern canon-formation ar- 
guably begins with the refusal of such resignation, and with the first sys- 
tematic efforts to bring neglected writings under the care and stewardship of 
an established authority or institution. It begins, that is, with the efforts of 
those who take it upon themselves to ensure the adequate reception of 
writings that are neither their own nor obviously essential to a productive 
cultural economy. In a pre-modern or "rhetorical" culture, writings are 
valued for a variety of instrumental or occasional functions. Canon-makers 
in a rhetorical culture, such as the medieval clerics and poets, are usually 
concerned to perpetuate past traditions in order to safeguard their own 
vocations and beliefs, to perpetuate an auctorial order, or to call attention to 



Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVI, 1 (1991) 57a 



57b / Renaissance and Reformation 

poetry's utility as a vehicle of fame and cultural memory: they canonize the 
literary past in order to ensure further production. In a modem or "objec- 
tivist" culture, in contrast, writings are prized for their "intrinsic" value and 
are not felt to perform any specific utilitarian function in society. Modern 
canon-formation is therefore veered toward reception, and while modern 
critics and teachers have a professional interest in reproducing the literature 
of the past, their acts of preservation are not meant to benefit anyone in 
particular, other than future readers or scholars.^ 

Modern canon-formation, by this definition, is inaugurated in England at 
the moment of most intense destruction, the Dissolution of the Monasteries 
in the first decades of the Reformation. The unlikely pioneers in this case were 
the antiquaries John Leland and John Bale, who, in the massive bio-bibliog- 
raphical catalogues they compiled in the 1540s and 1550s, produced the first 
full-scale objectif ications of the canon of British letters. I say "unlikely," 
because both Leland and Bale were hardly modems, and were very much 
concerned to argue for the instrumental value of the literature of the past. 
Sadly for them and for leaming in England, the destruction was of such a scale 
that it simply overwhelmed their arguments, as well as the antiquarians 
themselves. Bale wrote that he was moved to tears at the sight of the 
destruction: "thys is highly to be lamented, of all them that hath a naturall 
loue to their contrey. ... That in turnynge ouer of ye superstycyouse 
monasteryes, so lytle respecte was had to theyr lybraryes for the sauegarde 
of those noble & precyouse monumentes."^ And Leland, who went mad 
before he could complete his work, lamented how English books were being 
stolen and their glory unjustly appropriated by foreign scholars: "the Germans 
perceiving our desidiousness and negligence, do send daily young scholars 
hither, that spoileth them, and cutteth them out of libraries, returning home 
and putting them abroad as monuments of their own country."* 

The catalogues that these antiquaries eventually assembled are haunted by 
the Dissolution. One of the main functions of these works, and the source of 
their enduring value for later bibliographers, is to provide a documentary 
record of as many dispersed items as possible, which explains the antiquaries' 
overriding concern both for accuracy and comprehensiveness.^ But the Dis- 
solution also haunts these catalogues as a noticeable absence: nowhere in 



Dissolution and the Making of the English 
Literary Canon: The Catalogues of 
Leland and Bale 



TREVOR ROSS 



M. 



.odern canon-formation, by this definition, is inaugurated in England at 
the moment of most intense destruction, the Dissolution of the Monasteries 
in the first decades of the Reformation. The unlikely pioneers in this case 
were the antiquaries John Leland and John Bale, who, in the massive 
bio-bibliographical catalogues they compiled in the 1540s and 1550s, 
produced the first full-scale objectifications of the canon of British letters. I 
say "unlikely," because both Leland and Bale were hardly moderns, and 
were very much concerned to argue for the instrumental value of the 
literature of the past. Sadly for them and for learning in England, the 
destruction was of such a scale that it simply overwhelmed their arguments, 
as well as the antiquarians themselves. Bale wrote that he was moved to tears 
at the sight of the destruction: "thy s is highly to be lamented, of all them that 
hath a naturall loue to their contrey. ... That in turnynge ouer of ye super- 
stycyouse monasteryes, so lytle respecte was had to theyr lybraryes for the 
sauegarde of those noble & precyouse monumentes."^ And Leland, who 
went mad before he could complete his work, lamented how English books 
were being stolen and their glory unjustly appropriated by foreign scholars: 
"the Germans perceiving our desidiousness and negligence, do send daily 
young scholars hither, that spoileth them, and cutteth them out of libraries, 
returning home and putting them abroad as monuments of their own 
country.'"* 

The catalogues that these antiquaries eventually assembled are haunted by 
the Dissolution. One of the main functions of these works, and the source of 
their enduring value for later bibliographers, is to provide a documentary 
record of as many dispersed items as possible, which explains the antiquaries' 
overriding concern both for accuracy and comprehensiveness.^ But the Dis- 
solution also haunts these catalogues as a noticeable absence: nowhere in 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVI, 1 (1991) 57 



58 / Renaissance and Reformation 

these works do Leland and Bale make statements, like those I have just 
quoted, declaring their regret over the destruction that followed in the wake 
of the suppression of the abbeys. The above statements, and others like them, 
appear in the antiquaries' private letters, or in Bale's preface to his edition of 
Leland's New Year's address of 1546/7 to Henry VIII. ^ These catalogues 
trace a map of dispersal, as Leland and Bale try to keep track of the many rare 
items they came accross during their researches, but the causes of this 
dispersal are not discussed. The antiquaries' compelling silence on this matter 
was for them a difficult trade-off, for the established authority to whom they 
addressed their appeal was the very same authority, the Tudor Court, that had 
initiated the Dissolution in the mid- 1530s. ^ It was also the very same authority 
that had for a time enlisted Bale as an anti-clerical propagandist, and that had 
granted Leland his famous commission "to make a search after England's 
antiquities."^ The Court, through its tightly organized network of patronage, 
exercised full control over the national culture. There was no other possible 
authority the antiquaries could turn to. 

Leland and Bale both acknowledged that they were working within a long 
tradition of medieval cataloguers dating back to St. Jerome.^ Their immediate 
inspiration was the work of the Continental bibliographers Johannes Trithemius 
and Conrad Gesner, whose exhaustive indexes of classical and patristic auctores 
proved both exceptionally valuable and widely popular within Europe's bur- 
geoning print culture.'^ The English antiquaries openly borrowed the format of 
Trithemius' s Liber de Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis (1494) as the model for the 
entries in their catalogues: an annotated list of works prefaced by a brief life of 
the author. But what Leland and Bale ultimately produced were no mere 
booklists. Bale's catalogues, the 1548 Summarium and the much-expanded 
second edition, the Catalogus of 1557-59, just as much as Leland's (assembled 
in the 1530s and early 1540s, and referred to extensively by Bale, but not 
published until 1709,) differed from earlier bibliographies in that the urgency of 
the situation, the possible loss of England's literary heritage, impelled the 
antiquaries to bolster the aura of their canons with a number of imperialistic and 
religious myths. ^^ Refurbishing the old writings through such allegorizing 
commentary, they hoped, would signal the ideological necessity of preserving 
the British literary canon in its entirety, as a harmonious whole. The dispersal 
of the libraries was indication enough that, outside the cloisters, the reasons for 
having a learned tradition were not self-evident. What they come up with, then, 
are polemics for British letters, bibliographies animated by the sense that the 
writings they record may already be lost. The desperate tone of the polemics is 
a reflection of the marginal status of antiquarianism in a rhetorical culture, where 



Renaissance et Réforme / 59 

the value of any activity involving literary texts is measured in terms of its 
utility in the present; saving the old books merely for the sake of learning 
would not have seemed to Leland and Bale a very persuasive argument. More 
specifically, the polemics are of interest because the context of the Dissolution 
has rendered acute the task of resolving the central problem in all canon-for- 
mation, that of defining how it is the writings of the distant past retain their 
value in change. In remaining silent on the Dissolution, on the troubling fact 
that the event involved the deliberate and authorized actions of their contem- 
poraries in rejecting their past, the antiquaries suppress the temporality of 
their own endeavours. As a consequence, their polemical claims for the 
productive value of the endangered writings are uttered without any sure sense 
of an economy wherein such claims might be considered meaningful. The 
canons they therefore construct are harmonious, expansive, and almost utterly 
without modernity. 

Leland and Bale mythologize their nation's literary history because they 
are unwilling to confront directly the politics of Dissolution. Both antiquaries 
elsewhere pledge their support for Henry's reformist policies. In a late 
unpublished tract, the Antiphilarchia, Leland affirms his undying loyalty to 
the king, and even credits him with inaugurating antiquarian research into the 
"independent" origins of the English Church. Bale, one of the Reformation's 
most prominent controversialists, loudly applauded "the moste lawfull 
ouerthrow of the sodometrouse Abbeyes and Fryeryes." "Fyrst," he ex- 
plained, "for so much as they were the professed souldyours of Antichrist, & 
next to that, for so muche as they were moste execrable lyuers [sic]. For these 
causes, I must confesse them most iustly suppressed."^^ Yet Bale also made 
clear his view that the king's commissioners had been reckless in carrying 
out the suppression: "would I haue wyshed ... that the profytable corne had 
not so unaduysedly and ungodly peryshed wyth the unprofytable chaffe, nor 
the wholsome herbes with the unwholsome wedes."^^ 

Leland was rather more reluctant than Bale to offer criticisms of the 
suppression, perhaps because, unlike Bale, he was not simply committed to 
the goal of Reformation but felt a strong personal allegiance to Henry VIII. 
Evidence suggests that Leland acted as Henry's scout in acquiring selected 
items for the Royal Library. *"* Leland also voiced admiration for the New 
Learning that had come to be associated with the king.^^ But the ascendancy 
of the New Learning created a situation where the universities did not 
discourage the spoliation of medieval documents. As Bale noted, the schools 
were "not all clere in this detestable fact."^^ In a letter dated 12 September 
1535, Cromwell's most ruthless henchman, Richard Layton, proudly reports 



60 / Renaissance and Reformation 

that he had seen the works of Duns Scotus "banished" from Oxford, the 
"leaves of Dun" left to blow in the wind or used as "blawnsherres" (scare- 
sheets) to frighten away the deer.^^ For Leland, torn between his love of 
antiquities and his devotion to his master and all that he represented, it was 
an impossible situation. James P. Carley speculates that Leland "was unable 
to get a perspective on his conflicting loyalties or to find a philosophy which 
might reconcile the two."^^ Whatever the case, Leland refused to assign blame 
to any of his countrymen or to link the destruction to the policy of Dissolution. 

The antiquaries are equally ambivalent about iconoclasm, the impetus for 
much of the destruction. Bale rightly notes that a good part of the wastage was 
due to the avarice of the nobility, who, having taken possession of the suppressed 
houses, abused their contents or sold them off for profit. These opportunistic 
lords, says Bale, "reserued of those lybrarye bokes, some to seme theyr lakes, 
some to secure theyr candelstyckes, & some to rubbe their bootes. Some they 
solde to the grossers and sope sellers, & some they sent ouer see to ye 
bokebynders, not in small nombre, but at tymes whole shyppes fuU."^^ But Bale 
also admits that some of the violence may be attributed to "men godly mynded," 
who, in their iconoclastic zeal, laid waste indiscriminately to all they could get 
their hands on in the abbeys.^^ His "declaracyons" appended to Leland's "New 
Year's Gift" are meant in part as a plea to the English not to emulate the harmful 
"fury or frantycke madnesse of the Anabaptistes" and other fanatical groups.^' 
Yet Bale himself is impassioned in his condemnation of Catholic "idolatry" and 
image-making, and seems quite happy to allow the mutilation of books he 
dislikes: "Of the byshop of Romes lawes, decrees[,] decretals, extrauagantes, 
Clementines and other suche dregges of the deuyll, yea of Heytesburyes sophys- 
mes, Porphyryes uniuersals, Aristotles olde logy ekes and Dunses dyuy nyte, wy th 
other lowly legerdemaynes, and frutes of the bottomlesses pytte, had leaped out 
of our libraries, and so become couerynges for bokes comminge from the foren 
nacyons, we might wele haue ben therwith contented."^^ Leland, likewise, is 
known to have defaced a tablet in York Minster that purportedly identified an 
English king as having taken "this kingdom of the Pope by tribute to hold of the 
Church of Rome."^^ 

Presumably Leland and Bale have no difficulty with the notion of iconoclasm 
because they share the Protestant belief in the separation of word and image. But 
that separation is not always clear-cut. Many books, such as service-books, were 
often targets of the violence not for any images they may have contained but for 
the doctrines they expressed. In addition, an increasing number of Protestant 
authors were discovering the utility of illuminating their texts with woodcuts and 
engravings: the image, it was believed, was not idolatrous if it served the printed 



Renaissance et Réforme / 61 

word.^"^ The first edition of Bale's catalogue contains laudatory woodcuts of 
the author and of Wyclif, the hero of Bale's narrative. Bale's inclusion of 
these woodcuts anticipates the work of later Protestant polemicists who turn 
this iconographie canon-making into a rather sumptuous art. Bale himself is 
among the Reformation worthies included in one of the most popular of these 
portrait galleries, Henry Holland's Heroologia (1620). 

Given their ambivalence toward the political, doctrinal and emotional 
dimensions of Dissolution, Leland and Bale are hard-pressed to come up with 
convincing arguments for preserving the old books. Both make conventional 
appeals to patriotic sentiment by asserting that their antiquarian efforts will 
add "honour to this realm. "^^ Yet their patriotism is qualified by the 
knowledge that the dispersal of England's literary heritage has seriously 
undermined their nation's reputation among Europe's intellectual élites. Bale 
wonders aloud how badly it looks upon England "to haue it noysed abroade, 
that we are despysers of lernynge."^^ An undeclared function of their 
catalogues — written in Latin for a European audience, and containing no 
mention of the Dissolution — is to divert foreign attention away from the 
destruction. Such propaganda, Leland tells Henry, may help "the old glory of 
your renoumed Britaine to reflorish through the worlde."^^ 

However effective this attempt at damage control may be within the interna- 
tional community, it does not respond to the more pressing need to counter the 
indifference and outright hostility for letters still-prevalent at home. Though 
Leland and Bale disagree over how best to defend individual authors, their 
arguments on behalf of the literary tradition as a whole rely on three related sets 
of allegorizing myths: myths of cultural origins, myths of empire, and myths 
about the continuity of Protestant thought in England. Concern over their nation's 
low reputation in the world may underlie the antiquaries' willingness to embrace 
the first set of myths, those having to do with Britain's pre-history. Leland's 
catalogue opens with several entries describing the civilizing influence of bards 
and druids, while both editions of Bale's work contain an elaborate fiction about 
Britain's colonization, complete with a epic genealogy that extends from Adam 
and Seth, to Samothes Gigas (Homer's brother, no less) and "Bardus," the bringer 
of poetry and song, to the Trojan Brutus, from whose name was derived 
"Britain."^^ These imaginative accounts of England's origins are a rejoinder to 
similar propaganda made on behalf of other nations, such as a number of French 
claims that had declared the erudition of Gallic bards superior even to Roman 
leaming.^*^ 

The myth-making is equally a holdover from an earlier period when the 
Tudor monarchy had sought to strengthen his shaky claim to the throne by 



L 



62 / Renaissance and Reformation 

declaring direct descent from Arthur and other semi-legendary figures of the 
English past. By linking this royal genealogy to England's literary tradition, 
the antiquaries are clearly hoping to appeal to Tudor anxieties, and to save 
the tradition by upholding the legitimizing power of antiquities. In the same 
spirit, the antiquaries promise that their catalogues will establish England's 
reputation as an imperial power, which is the common theme of their second 
set of myths. The grandeur of the antiquaries' imperial vision is reflected in 
the size of their catalogues. Bale, in his attempt to include every figure who 
could conceivably have some connection with British letters, seems to have 
lost sight of the original aim of preservation, with the resuh that the final, 
bloated version of his catalogue contains some 1400 entries, many of which, 
like those for Merlin and Pope Joan, have little to do with saving old 
manuscripts and much to do with portraying England as an elect nation. With 
a little under 600 entries, Leland's catalogue is shorter yet no less far-reach- 
ing, as Leland expends a good deal of energy trying to refute other nations' 
claims on writers, many of them legendary, who he believes are quite properly 
British. His catalogue of writers was originally intended as the first part of a 
much larger and systematic survey of Britain's land, nobihty and history, a 
project whose ideological tenor Leland was only happy to make clear: just as 
Charlemagne had among his treasures silver engravings of Rome and Con- 
stantinople, Leland tells his master, "so shall your Maiestie haue thys your 
worlde and impery of Englande so sett fourthe in a quadrate table of silver. "^^ 
The third set of myths represents the most powerful argument for preser- 
vation the antiquaries have to offer, and the point of most profound disagree- 
ment between the two. Both assert that their research is intended to provide 
evidence of the persistence of reformist thought and activity in England. The 
old writings are worth preserving, they maintain, because some long-con- 
cealed verities of primhive Christianity may yet be found among them. Says 
Bale to his patrons, "ye might parauenture se many unknowne wonders. "-^^ 
Leland, likewise, assures King Henry that his efforts will bring "full manye 
thynges to lyght, as concernynge the usurped autoryte of the Byshopp of 
Rome and hys complyces, to the manyfest and uyolent derogacyon of kyngely 
dygnylQ."^^ The Antiphilarchia notwithstanding, however, Leland's commit- 
ment to reformist ideals is not as intense as Bale's, and seems less a reflection 
of deep religious convictions than an extension of his loyalty to Henry. Bale 
even expressed dismay at how Leland had treated many works in his catalogue 
"with no discrimination between doctrines or testing of spirits, and the fact 
that evil things are taken as holy."^^ 



Renaissance et Réforme / 63 

In contrast to Leland, Bale believed strongly in the need to recover and 
publicize suppressed works of radical theology, though his first priority in his 
catalogue is to legitimize the Reformation by retracing England's history so as 
to confirm its unique destiny as a continuator of the early Church.^"^ Bale is among 
the first English exponents of a powerful Protestant eschatology that rejects the 
Augustinian separation of divine from worldly existence, and sees instead the 
possibility of human history coinciding at some future time with the re-emer- 
gence of a true Christianity. J. G. A. Pocock has described some of the features 
of this apocalypticism and has noted how it often posits a historical line of 
divinely-inspired authors: "God has pronounced, through the mouths of 
prophets, certain words in time; the occasions of these pronouncements, together 
with other happenings to which they refer, constitute a series of divine acts in 
past time; we believe that these acts were performed by believing the authors and 
the words they have relayed to us. ... All is logos, and logos is a system of 
communications through time."^^ The goal Bale sets for himself in his catalogue 
is to identify this logos from among all the writings ever produced in England, 
and to write the narrative of its history: "what continuaunce, what darkeninges, 
what decayes, what falle, and what rayse againe."!!-^^ 

The antiquaries' ideological differences translate into two distinct ap- 
proaches to canon-making. Where Leland erects a pantheon to honour king 
and empire. Bale desires the enabling continuities of a tradition. And where 
Leland is apt to lavish praise indiscriminately. Bale styles himself a discerning 
judge of what he calls England's "elected heritage. "-^^ Yet both antiquaries 
are confronted with the same problem, one that must inevitably be considered 
in any attempt to claim for the texts of the past the power to transcend their 
historical origins and to survive the test of time. For Leland and Bale, this 
problem is not simply one of defending the enduring value of the old books 
in the face of their widespread destruction. It is equally a problem of 
representing this living value, the timeless modernity of literary works, while 
at the same time relating each of these works to a particular historical context, 
to the occasions of their pronouncements, and to the life and times of the 
author. In essence, the problem is one of reconciling literary history, with its 
emphasis on change and historical specificity, with the anti-historicism of 
canon-formation.^^ This dialectic of permanence and change is obscured 
somewhat by the medieval form of the biographical catalogue, which recog- 
nizes important individual accomplishments without necessarily situating 
these in a historical narrative. The antiquaries, for reasons that have to do with 
their divergent personal motives for preserving the old books, are nonetheless 
concerned to identify patterns of change in their catalogues, whether this 



64 / Renaissance and Reformation 

change involves the concept of human agency, the use of periodization, or a 
narrative of decline and rebirth. Yet, in a rhetorical culture, to call attention 
to historical change in this way cannot but heighten the sense that the books 
belong to the past and are best forgotten. It becomes incumbent on the 
antiquaries to suggest how these writings retain value in altered circumstan- 
ces, including the circumstances of Dissolution, the one context Leland and 
Bale feel impelled to suppress in their narratives. 

It has been argued that Leland's interest in antiquities predates the Dissolu- 
tion, and develops out of his early acquaintance with Continental humanist 
scholars.^*^ Certainly Leland has absorbed the codes of humanist polemic and 
rhetorical culture by the time he sets about defending his nation's canonical 
literature. In the often quoted opening to his "New Year's Gift," Leland 
informs Henry that he is in the midst of fulfilling his commission to deliver 
"the monumentes of auncyent wryters ... out of deadly darkenesse to lyuelye 
lyght.'"^ Light, for Leland as for all humanists, signifies eloquence. His task, 
as he sees it, is to enliven England's sense of its own past by rescuing its letters 
and chronicles from the "darkness" of medieval expression. The lives of 
English kings and poets, he maintains, have been "hitherto sore obscured, 
bothe for lacke of empryntynge of such workes as laye secretely in comers. . . . 
And also because men of eloquence hath not enterprised, to set them fourth 
in a floryshynge style. '"^^ Leland's idealization of eloquence suggests how 
much closer in spirit his catalogue is to Petrarch's biographies of famous men 
than to the booklists of St. Jerome. The bibliographical import of Leland's 
catalogue is secondary to the Petrarchan goal of overcoming contemporary 
ignorance of the glories and personages of the distant past. As Leland suggests 
at the end of his defense of King Arthur, the triumph of antiquarianism will 
come when "at lengthe (those same most thicke mistie cloudes in deede of 
ignorance beeing shaken off, & vtterly dashed aside) the light of British 
Antiquitie with displayed beames farre and wide shall shine forth. "'^- 

Leland's use of these luminary metaphors differs in one respect from 
Petrarch's. The latter's valorization of a radiant eloquence versus a medieval 
obscurity corresponded to a deliberate periodization of history, a symmetry 
of illustrious ancients and barbarous moderns."*^ Such periodization is unhelp- 
ful to Leland, as he is trying to exalt not the works of the ancients, but those 
of the very moderns whose inelegant style he maligns. Leland nonetheless 
finds the codes of renaissance light and medieval dark appealing for the 
clarity, the styles of certainty, they offer, even if their use entails periodizing 
away a large chunk of recent English literary history. His researches, he tells 
Henry, will "open this wyndow, that the lyght shal be seane, so long, ye is to 



Renaissance et Réforme / 65 

say, by ye space of a whole thousand yeares stopped up.'"^ Leland's heavy 
reliance on such discriminatory language indicates the degree to which he is 
steeped in rhetorical culture and, as well, the degree to which such thinking 
cannot help him to deal seriously with historical change and contingency. 
Leland's florid rhetoric suggests that his evaluative certainties are largely 
emotional.'*'^ This raises the question of what, if anything, does Leland find 
of value in the old writings. In his "New Year's Gift," Leland writes as though 
the antiquities themselves were not so important as the general project of 
antiquarianism. Leland's self-service is perhaps understandable, his "Gift" 
being a progress report to the king in which Leland is expected to do little 
more than to outline his research and to say how his efforts will add to the 
king's majesty. Yet it remains unclear whether Leland's interest in antiquities 
involves anything other than emotion. 

Leland's belief that the writings of the English past constitute enduring 
monuments of learning stems from his fervent patriotism but equally from a 
concern his own poetry, which he wrote throughout his career. Leland's love of 
antiquities carries with it a high emotional investment, as he must prove their 
lastingness to confirm the immortalizing power of his own verse. Leland's 
self-service in this respect is no worse than that of earlier poets, though Bale says 
he found his colleague's quest for authorial self-determination regrettable: "I 
muche do feare it that he was vaynegloryouse, and that he had a poetycall wytt, 
whyche I lament, for I iudge it one of the chefest thynges that caused hym to fall 
besydes hys ryghte dyscernynges.'"*^ Leland's personal stake in sustaining the 
mythology of authorial fame determines in large measure the nature of his canon, 
a Pamassus founded on the self-authorizing and secular agency of the scholar- 
poet; it is, in other words, a canon founded on the conflicting principles of 
inclus iveness and revisionism. Leland's canon is meant to be all-encompassing 
in its listing of all identifiably British bookmen, but its operative mythology is 
that of the Petrarchan laureate whose self-determination and modernity rest on 
his ability to displace the literary achievements of the recent past. Leland has 
therefore to show how his canon retains its integrity and value even as the writers 
he esteems continually strive to surpass their precursors. Perhaps more troubling, 
any Pamassus, no matter how expansive, must appear to remain meaningful in 
changing times, or else it will seem a foolish and anachronistic pretension. 
Thomas M. Greene has described this phenomenon and has suggested that those 
texts which do appear to last without seeming too dated are those which 
incorporate an idea of historicity: "to dramatize in art a survival of the past into 
an altered present, would seem to provide a text with a certain resilience in 
confronting its own survival.'"^^ It is this balance, between affirming the moder- 



66 / Renaissance and Reformation 

nity of literature and insisting on its historicity, which Leland must achieve 
if his canon-making is to be at all credible. 

It is not an easy balance to sustain. A devotee of Chaucer, Leland includes in 
his entry on the poet three of his own verse compositions, the second of which 
compares Chaucer to Homer and Virgil yet which states the English poet could 
not achieve true greatness because he happened not to live in an age as fortuitous 
to learning as the classical period.'^^ In what, then, does the value of Chaucer's 
work consist? Leland hesitates in specifying that value. He repeats the com- 
monplace that Chaucer "refined" the vernacular, but for Leland this accomplish- 
ment is only important in a historical sense, and does not attest to Chaucer's 
enduring value as a poet. Leland subscribes to a notion of a "progress of letters," 
and believes the standard for poetic excellence in the vernacular rests no longer 
with Chaucer but with Wyatt, whom Leland, in an eulogy on the poet, calls "the 
stream, light and lightning of eloquence.'"*^ Leland goes on to compare Chaucer 
to the classical poets, a canon whose sempitemal authority is incontestable and 
that therefore offers an example of past values and meanings surviving in change. 
Leland thinks several of Chaucer ' s compositions are likely to endure, being equal 
in merit to the best of the Latins.^^ But the assertion fails to persuade because 
Leland has not specified what is of instrumental or, for that matter, intrinsic value 
in Chaucer's writings, what it is about those writings that will allow them to 
survive now that a later generation of authors has surpassed the medieval poet's 
verbal achievement. Chaucer's high standing in the English canon seems unac- 
countable, but Leland cannot afford to deny the poet his rank or his permanence. 
The difficulty Leland has created for himself is one of reconciling a desire for a 
harmonious, fully inclusive and imperishable canon of British letters, with an 
equally compelling need for evaluative certainty, for prescribing meaningful 
criteria by which to judge formal and qualitative differences between works, and 
for persuading his patrons of the worth and utility of his canon as a whole. 

In an attempt to reconcile these divergent aims, Leland has recourse to one 
final rhetorical construct, the discriminating reader. In a sympathetic entry on 
Gower, Leland again writes contemptuously of the Middle Ages, but adds 
that the poet's preeminence can yet be recognized by those who are prepared 
to make allowances for Gower' s age: 

he cultivated the humanities and labored much in poetry. This is testified to 
by his poems of which he wrote many in Latin, zealous rather than felicitous 
in imitating Ovid. That should seem no wonder, especially in a semi-bar- 
barous age. With difficuhy even in our so flourishing time can anyone imitate 
the overflowing beauties of Ovid's poetry. ... Accordingly, we overlook 



Renaissance et Réforme / 67 

certain infelicities in the poems of Gower, and we hold him up as the first 
refiner of our native language. For before that time the English language lay 
uncultivated and nearly wholly raw. Nor was there anyone who could write 
in the vernacular, works suitable for a discriminating reader. Thus the value 
of his works lies in their careful cultivation, that, the rude weeds stamped 
out, instead of thistles arise the pliant violet and purple narcissus.^' 

Leland is working hard to transform his Tudor patrons into reflections of 
himself: his discriminating reader appreciates the desirability of having an 
extensive literary canon, and his courtly humanist discretion does not disallow 
him from enjoying works from England's uncultured past. The "discriminat- 
ing reader" (or, more usually, the "learned reader") is a figure common to the 
agonistic structures of classical rhetoric, and routinely appears in early critical 
evaluations of English literature. But there is something peculiar about 
Leland's use of the figure, something that reveals Leland's own contradictory 
impulses. In accordance with the dialectical codes of rhetoric, a discriminat- 
ing reader must be able to discriminate against something, or else his asser- 
tions will seem empty. Leland's discriminating reader lacks this Other; he is 
an unlikely figure who combines humanist sophistication with a predisposi- 
tion to look with a favourable and uncritical eye upon the works of long- 
departed national authors. The only Other Leland can identify is history itself, 
the medieval context in which the old writings were first produced. Leland's 
reader dissociates the literature from its semi-barbarous history, plucks the 
flowers from their surrounding, weedy garden. Such canon-making, in 
Leland's narrative of cultural rebirth, will benefit an already "so flourishing 
age" by helping it to emerge from the dark "clouds of ignorance." What 
Leland is saying finally is that the preservation of the literary past will help 
to defeat the pernicious influence of the past. Attempting to court the favour 
of his patrons, Leland is forced to flatter them in their superiority over the 
very period and literature he is making claims for. The trade-off deprives his 
canon of any serious claim to modernity, and leaves Leland with little more 
than emotion to defend his literary tradition. 

If Leland's canon is empowered by the antinomic energies of rhetoric, 
Bale's is secured in the Word. Preserving the old books is a moral duty for 
Bale. As his vision of history insists on the role of secular life in human 
spiritual development, he sees the English people as responsible for the 
eventual re -establishment of a true Church. According to this argument, the 
English, as an elect race, must believe in the logos of prophecies and promises 
contained in the writings of their ancestors in order to achieve their salvation. 



68 / Renaissance and Reformation 

And even if these writings do not reveal long-buried divine pronouncements, 
they may offer indispensable information on the occasions to which the 
writings of the reformist prophets may refer. Hence, in Bale's view, the 
English must save their literature to save themselves. When he laments the 
harm the Dissolution will bring to future generations, he is referring not 
simply, as Leland might, to England's reputation but to its people's spiritual 
redemption: "to put our auncient Chronicles, our noble hystoryes, our learned 
commentaryes & homelyes upon ye scriptures, to so homely an office of 
subieccyon & utter contempte we have both greatly dishonoured our nacyon, 
and also shewed our selves very wycked to our posteryte."^^ 

Given his belief in the continuity of British letters. Bale looks more 
favourably upon medieval literature than does Leland, and shows particular 
interest in English poetry. He discusses Caedmon and other Anglo-Saxon 
minstrels, and includes an entry on "Gildas Cambrius," who is reputed to be 
Britain's first poet, and whose works Bale greatly regrets not having come 
across in the course of his research: "O that we had now the floryshyng workes 
of Gildas, surnamed Cambrius, that most noble Poete and Historyane of the 
Britaines, which wrote in the tyme of kynge Aruiragus, when S. Peter yet 
preached to the dispersed bretherne."^-^ The seriousness with which Bale 
relates the story of Gildas is owing to his theory of history, which is based on 
a principle of reductive periodization. Bale is predisposed to believe in the 
actuality of the first-century Gildas for that would mean a British writer had 
flourished during the period of the primitive church. He is likewise prepared 
to assume that the late fourteenth-century English poets were sympathetic to 
reform because they happen to fall into the one "century" that also included 
Wyclif — "century" being Bale's term for the roughly-chronological groups 
of one hundred lives that make up each of his chapters. Bale had in fact 
initially ascribed the authorship of Piers Plowman to Wyclif himself, but later 
corrected his error in the Catalogus. He reports, as well, that Chaucer, whose 
canon of works had by this time been enlarged to include the virulently 
anti-clerical Plowman's Tale, wrote many works "in which he showed his 
disapproval of that great multitude of mumblers, the monks, of their idleness, 
their unintelligible prayers, their relics, pilgrimages and ceremonies. "^'^ 

As Frank Kermode has suggested, periodization can serve canon-formation 
to the extent that it may "enable us to package historical data that would 
otherwise be hopelessly hard to deal with."^^ Such packaging not only 
facilitates the task of assessing the works of the past but diminishes their 
alterity and in so doing makes them seem modern, in harmony with contem- 
porary values. In reducing the later fourteenth century into an age of Wyclif, 



Renaissance et Réforme / 69 

Baie turns history into a mirror of his own times, for Wyclif, he believes, is 
the "morning star" of the Reformation.^^ Chaucer and Gower become Lollard 
poets, whose message is as relevant to sixteenth-century Protestants as it was 
to audiences of their day.^^ Bale's periodization works in the other direction, 
too, as Catholic authors are condemned to their benighted "centuries," yet in 
a sense these authors are equally modernized, since the conflict of the two 
churches dominates Bale's narrative as a transhistorical phenomenon. There 
is an apocalyptic dimension, as well, to the way Bale packages the sum of his 
centuries. While the quality of a work is dependent on the context of its 
production, the complexion of that context has itself been wholly preordained. 
Many "famouse and notable workemen," he writes, "wrote in this nacyon 
from age to age, some wele some yll, accordynge to the dyuerse nature of 
their times, like as the holy Ghost forejudged of theyr doynges in S. Johanns 
reuelacion."^^ Hardly a relativist. Bale nonetheless speaks powerfully of the 
judgment of history: "what thynge more clerely tryeth the doctrynes of men, 
what they are, than do their ages or times?"^^ Bale transposes Leland's 
dialectic of light and dark ages into a stark historical drama of warring 
centuries, where the sole criterion of judgment is the age when a work was 
first written. Bale's canon is thus marked by radically prescriptive period 
divisions, yet within each historical period there is perfect harmony. 

Such reduction is finally too deterministic even for Bale, who is concerned 
to show the political courage of those like Wyclif who saw through the 
sophistry of the Roman Church and brought the "light of truth" to their age.^ 
Just as Protestants of the present age are responsible for ensuring their salvation, 
so were individual acts of conscience in the past instrumental in helping to bring 
about reform. However pre-ordained, the Reformation is a historical break 
realized through human agency and, in particular, through the power of the 
written word. The theme of Bale's catalogue, much more so than Leland's, is the 
historical and moral centrality of writing in human affairs. Though Bale is often 
unclear as to how exactly particular works contributed to the larger history of 
true Christianity, his theme requires that he pays close attention to the historical 
specificity of authors and their works: "Their ages are as necessary to be knowne 
as their doctrynes, and the tytles of their bokes so wele as their manyfest actes, 
to them that wyl throughly iudge things as they are, & not be deceiued by 
colours. "^^ As a result, his catalogues juxtapose the seemingly irreconcilable 
narratives of historicism and providence, authorship and auctoritas',^^ Bale is 
faced with much the same problem that worried Leland, the problem of how to 
write and judge authoritatively about both the uniform and the divergent values 
of texts from the past. 



70 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Bale's concern to present "things as they are" leads him to reject Leland's 
call to embellish the English chronicles. On the contrary, Bale argues, the 
writers of the past should be allowed to speak for themselves in their own 
words, "For undoubtedly, authoryte it woulde adde unto them, to apere fyrst 
of all in their owue [sic] simplycyte or natiue colours without bewtie of 
speche." To make these works available to all English readers, he suggests, 
is a much more laudable aim than to refurbish them with a florid style that 
appeals only to a select few. "And," he adds, "for that purpose (I thynke) God 
hath iu [sic] thys age geuen the noble art of prentynge."^-^ If for Leland "light" 
denotes eloquence, it symbolizes for Bale, as for other Protestant polemicists, 
the disseminatory and democratizing powers of print. As Bale's friend John 
Foxe declared, "through the light of printing the world beginneth now to have 
eyes to see, and heads to judge. "^"^ Darkness, according to this scheme, is not 
medieval inelegance but the widespread illiteracy of a manuscript age. Bale, 
who spent his final years lobbying for the publication of pre-Reformation 
manuscripts, including works antithetical to his own thinking, blamed this 
illiteracy on a papist conspiracy that "hath alwayes ben busied, seking 
contrary wyse to obscure all thynges, that contayned any veryte neces- 
sarye."^^ Ironically, the coming of the printed book may have added to the 
prejudice against the aging, tangibly wnmodern manuscripts during the period 
of their wholesale destruction. 

The reality of this destruction points to what is missing from Bale's 
narrative, a coherent account of how literature survives in change. The 
absence is even more apparent from his commentary on Leland's "Gift," 
where he repeatedly insists on the existence of "thynges lastyng & durable" 
while at the same time loudly deploring their loss.^^ Just as a historicist inquiry 
can never be perfectly accommodated to a providential, harmonizing design, 
so metaphysical truths can never be fully coextensive with physical contin- 
gencies. Bale's transcendent logos is not an image of survival because it fixes 
value outside of change, beyond the historicity of authors and their works. 
Though Bale's pleading for political action places him among the humanists 
as well as the reformers of his age, his theory of change is as absolutist as 
Alcuin's theodicy. And although his arguments for the continuing utility of 
past literature provides his canon with an evaluative certainty that Leland's 
pantheon lacks, his catalogues seem far more obsolescent than his 
colleague's, very much the productions of a particular time and place. It is 
this very susceptibility to anachronism that makes Bale's totalizing canon 
seem even less modern than Leland's unfinished, conflicted pantheon. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 71 

The catalogues of Leland and Baie belonged to possibly the last period 
when the entire indigenous literary canon could be so boldly "co-opted" on 
behalf of nationalist or religious propaganda. The strokes could never again 
be so broad.^^ The Elizabethan antiquaries, for their part, would not seem as 
concerned with the role of literature in English cultural history, and considered 
the literary canon a topic best left to the margins of their texts.^^ Stow, though 
he edited Chaucer's works, offered no more than passing references to the 
English poets in his Chronicles of England (1580), leaving the task of assessing 
the canon up to his "continuator," Edmund Howes, who contributed a sizable list 
of writers "such as were most famous, in the high misterie of POESEY: by whose 
singular paines, and industry, our native language, hath from time to time, beene 
much refined: and at this time, directly by them, brought to great perfection: and 
the abuse of time, & popular absurdities many wayes disciphered, and amended." 
Howes' s register of names is remarkably full, extending from Roger Bacon to 
George Wither, but the very miscellaneousness of his list points up the inade- 
quacy of his critical generalizations. Unable to spell out why canonical poetry 
endures, Howes appeals to mystification and platitude, citing poetry's high 
mystery as well as its more mundane usefulness as a corrective of popular 
absurdities. And rather than assess the merit of individual works, Howes, a 
self-styled "gentleman," presents a harmonious canon of authors ranked "accord- 
ing to their priorities," that is, their social class.^^ 

Camden, who has many more things to say about British literature, presents 
a more intriguing contrast to Leland and Bale because it is clear that he struggles 
with the very problem his predecessors try to avoid, the problem of defending 
the enduring value of literature while acknowledging the role of historical 
change. Camden appears to like poetry a great deal, but seems uncertain as to 
how to deal with it. It is among those subjects treated in the Remains (1605), 
Camden's topical assortment of what he calls "the rude rubble and out-cast 
rubbish ... of a greater and more serious worke," the Britannia (1586).^° Under 
the generic headings of poems, epigrams, "rhythmes" and epitaphs, Camden 
compiles brief anthologies of mainly Anglo-Latin verse, and prefaces his selec- 
tion with a short defense of poetry's didactic and pleasure-giving utility. Yet 
Camden also feels the need to apologize for his selections and claims to offer 
only "a taste of some of midle age, which was so overcast with darke clouds, or 
rather thicke fogges of ignorance, that every little sparke of liberall learning 
seemed wonderfuU: so that if sometime you happen of an uncouth word, let the 
time entreate pardon for it, when as all words have their times."^^ 

Camden is torn between asserting the timeless values of poetry and making 
allowances for the different ages and modes of poetic expression. When he 



72 / Renaissance and Reformation 

says that the Latin epigrammatists Neckham and Giraldus Cambrensis "were 
not inferior" to those of his own period, he is speaking as a critical historian 
who upholds the merit of forgotten poetry while recognizing the differences 
between the ages7^ But when he states it was Surrey and not Chaucer who 
"first refined our homly English Poesy," he begins to speak as more a judge 
than a defender of poets, and makes claims for a particular idea of poetry 
within a statement about literary history 7^ That idea finally overwhelms 
Camden's original presupposition that "all words have their times," and 
Camden the antiquary gives way to Camden the arbiter elegantiae for all 
times: "if I would come to our time, what a world could I present to you out 
of Sir Philipp Sidney, Ed. Spencer, [nine more] ... & other most pregnant 
witts of these our times, whom succeeding ages may justly admire."^"^ It is 
only by setting history aside, and by ignoring his introductory remarks on the 
social utility of poetry, that Camden can so positively affirm the contemporary 
canon's chances of being admired throughout the ages. 

The antiquaries' failure to deal conclusively with the question of how the 
writings of the past survive the test of time illustrates the limitations of rhetorical 
culture in the face of historical change. These limitations may account for the 
antiquaries' profound anxiety about the temporality of their own enterprise. 
Insofar as they record for posterity's sake the lives and works of hundreds of 
disparate authors, both catalogues can be seen as objectifying the age-old belief 
that literature holds the keys to memory and immortality, a topos that mns 
throughout Leland's writing, if not Bale's. But the very act of recording these lives 
presumes the need for such a register. Were it not for the catalogues, it seems, all of 
these long-dead authors would be left to oblivion. Leland and Bale were responding 
to what they perceived to be a crisis, the dispersal of the monastic collections, which 
they felt threatened to obliterate England's heritage of letters. Their chosen response, 
massive catalogues of authors, served two purposes: to supply important information 
on the whereabouts of the dispersed items, and to secure for British letters the 
protection of fame through the framing of a literary canon. If, as Curtius maintains, 
canon-formation "serves to safeguard a tradition,"^^ then the motive behind canon- 
formation springs from the feeling that a tradition needs this safeguard, that the works 
of the past are not in themselves immortal, that they are frequently subject to neglect 
or outright censorship, that all literature, catalogues of authors included, cannot 
ultimately survive without the help of canon-makers. Though canon-formation may 
posit the transhistoricism of literature, it is itself a fundamentally historical act, an 
often political or emotional response to what is perceived to be a situation detrimental 
to the survival or right appreciation of literary works, or of authorship itself. What 
Leland and Bale are anxious to preserve are the conditions for aU writing, conditions 



Renaissance et Réforme / 73 

that can ensure the continuance of British letters and, in particular, the 
safeguarding of the very works of Leland and Bale. 

There is equally a measure of anxiety in the antiquaries' almost obsessive 
determination to persuade through the sheer size of their canons. One of the 
reasons why these directories seem so unlike an assured production like 
Johnson's Lives of the Poets, which is itself a biographical catalogue of 
authors, is that there exists the very real sense that Leland and Bale are 
working in a cultural vacuum, that there is no evaluative community backing 
up their efforts. It is no wonder that they speak from emotion and desperation. 
Without any confirmed and widespread positive opinion on their side, they 
can be assured of nothing, not even an end to the Dissolution. It is thus a sad 
conclusion to Bale's work that he should see his own library, made up of 
books salvaged from the Dissolution, sacked and dispersed within five years 
of the publication of his SummariumP^ 

To be sure, Leland and Bale are trying to generate a consensus of opinion, but 
therein lies the paradox at the heart of their endeavour. For there is a very real 
problem of coming to terms with the reality of the Dissolution. In effect, Leland 
and Bale must simultaneously affirm and deny that reality, its extent and its 
meaning. On the one hand, Leland and Bale want to make it known that the writings 
of the past do contain much that is valuable for England ' s sense of itself as a nation. 
But that value is itself contingent upon the willingness of the English to define their 
identity in terms of their history and literature. It therefore becomes the task of 
these antiquaries to convince their patrons and fellow reformers of the legitimizing 
power of tradition, and to make them feel that it is in their best interest to honour 
the nation's literary heritage. "I haue accuratelye celebrated the names," Leland 
tells King Henry, of "your progenytours," the former rulers, scholars and poets of 
England whose line is worth commemorating ostensibly because it culminates in 
Henry's reign. ^^ And yet it was Henry who sanctioned the Dissolution in the first 
place. Leland mentions neither the sanction nor the Dissolution in his "New Year's 
Gift," but can only speak mistily of the glory that will come from bringing the 
monuments to light.^^ Addressing the English people rather than the king in 
particular, Bale can afford to be more explicit than Leland in his condemnation of 
"the malyce or els slouthfuU neglygence of thy s wycked age, whych is muche geuen 
to the destruccyon of thynges memorable."^^ Yet no matter how hard he tries to 
persuade contemporaries of the possible consequences of their actions, he cannot 
account for the manifestation of this wickedness among a generation that has also 
brought about Reformation. The "dark" conspiracy against letters that is a feature 
of his own age may well be a direct repercussion of Reformation, but that is 



74 / Renaissance and Reformation 

certainly not something which Bale is prepared to acknowledge, particularly 
in his catalogue. 

On the other hand, what gives these catalogues their urgency, if not their 
lasting value, is the Dissolution itself. The dispersal of the monastic collec- 
tions is a great shameful episode in British history, and bitter confirmation of 
the nation's enduring lowly stature among European countries: "For so lytle 
estemynge our true Antiquytees, the proude Italyanes have alwayes holden 
us for a Barbarouse nacyon."^^ The work of the antiquaries is worthwhile 
because the situation is so bad, the destruction so deplorable. By extension, 
the worth of the old books is itself magnified by the threat of extinction. The 
writings of the past are, it seems, no more valuable than at the very moment 
when they are in danger of becoming scarce. These so-called "monuments" 
acquire an aura of irreplaceableness and rarity out of contrast with the spectre 
of destruction and oblivion. Ultimately, the canons of Leland and Bale derive 
their rhetorical force and seeming harmoniousness less from elitist or 
religious discriminations than from the very magnitude of the ongoing 
catastrophe: the greater the number of old writings that can conceivably be 
lost, the greater the potential shock value. Once the danger of destruction is 
lessened, however, it becomes harder to dramatize the worth and utility of the 
old texts, or to see them as constituting a single, uniform literary tradition. 
Gone are the powerful evaluative certainties that are tenable only in a crisis 
like the Dissolution. Only when the objective, non-utilitarian value of past 
writings and past learning is widely accepted will there be a history of 
literature in England that is not also insisting on the enduring relevance of 
texts sunk virtually without a trace. And only then, in the eighteenth century, 
will the catalogues of Leland and Bale begin to receive the serious attention 
of scholars and critics. An anonymous 1785 redaction of passages from 
Warton's History of English Poetry is among thé first literary histories to see 
Leland's canon-making as a symbolic act of preservation, and as an unlikely 
admonition against modern complacency: "When we look into the accounts 
of the British writers which have been given us by Leland and other biog- 
raphers, and observe the multitude of persons whom these biographers have 
rescued from oblivion, together with the praises they have bestowed upon 
them, ... we are ready to believe that the times preceding the Reformation 
were much more learned than has usually been imagined."^^ 

University of Toronto 



Renaissance et Réforme / 75 



Notes 

1. Alcuin's epistles on the taid have been edited by Colin Chase, in Two Alcuin Letter- 
Books (Toronto: Centre for Medieval Studies, 1975), 50-56. 

2. Walter J. Ong is the most notable historian of shift from a "rhetorical" to an "objec- 
tivist" culture. See, in particular, his Rhetoric, Romance, and Technology (Ithaca: 
Cornell University Press, 1971), 2inA Interfaces of the M^ort/ (Ithaca: Cornell University 
Press, 1977). On the shift from "instrumentalist" to "intrinsic" theories of literary value, 
see E. D. Hirsch, Jr., "Two Traditions of Literary Evaluation," Literary Theory and 
Criticism, ed. Joseph P. Strelka (Bern: Peter Lang, 1984), 283-298. See also M. H. 
Abrams's remarks on "pragmatic theories" in the introductory chapter to The Mirror 
and The Lamp (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953), and Abrams's revision of the 
chapter, as well as his important essay on "Art-as-Such: The Sociology of Modern 
Aesthetics," in Doing Things with Texts (New York: Norton, 1989), 3-30 and 135-158. 

3. John Bale, The laboryouse Journey & serche of Johan Leylande, for Englandes 
Antiquitees, ... with declaracyons enlarged (London, 1549; rpt. Amsterdam: Theatrum 
Orbis Terrarum, 1975), sig. A7v. 

4. John Leland, letter to Thomas Cromwell, dated 16 July 1536, quoted in part in Anthony 
à Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, ed. Philip Bliss, 3 vols. (London, 1813), 1: col. 198. 
Wood notes that he saw the original letter "among the papers of state," but it has since 
been lost. 

5. Though these catalogues offer generally reliable information, especially about post- 
Conquest writings, their utility for modern scholars has been eclipsed by the 
antiquaries' notebooks, which contain valuable library references and some tantalizing 
quoted extracts unobscured by commentary. As James P. Carley notes, "palaeographers 
and textual historians are more interested in manuscripts Leland saw and where he saw 
them than in his interpretations of the data contained in them," in "John Leland and the 
Contents of English Pre-Dissolution Libraries: Glastonbury Abbey," Scriptorium 40 
(1986): 108. One of Bale's notebooks has been edited by Reginald Lane Poole and 
Mary Bateson under the title Index Britanniae Scriptorum, in Anecdota Oxoniensia 9 
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902). 

6. See notes 2 and 3 above, and Bale's letter to Matthew Parker, dated 30 July 1560, edited 
by H. R. Luard in Cambridge Antiquarian Communications 3 (1864-76): 157-73. It is 
impossible to get even an approximate figure on how many books were destroyed or 
dispersed, but it is clear that the losses were very heavy. See the articles by C. E. Wright, 
"The Dispersal of the Monastic Libraries and the Beginnings of Anglo-Saxon Studies. 
Matthew Parker and his Circle: A Preliminary Study," Transactions of the Cambridge 
Bibliographical Society 1 (1951): 208-37, and "The Dispersal of the Libraries in the 
Sixteenth Century," in The English Library before 1700, ed. Francis Wormald and C. 
E. Wright (London: Athlone Press, 1958), 148-75. 

7. My argument here agrees in general terms with Margaret Aston's in her essay "English 
Ruins and English History: The Dissolution and the Sense of the Past": "The agonizing 
sight of wholesale destruction spurred people into activity — even those whose Protes- 
tant convictions made them wholly endorse the process at large," in Lollards and 
Reformers: Images and Literacy in Late Medieval Religion (London: Hambledon Press, 
1984), 314. 

8. Wood 1: col. 198. 



76 / Renaissance and Reformation 

9. There had been previous attempts in England at producing bibliographical records of 
library contents. In the fourteenth century, a monk at Bury St. Edmunds compiled a 
catalogue which surveyed the lives and works of 674 authors, "for the use and 
convenience of students and preachers." See R.H. Rouse, "Bostonus Burienses and the 
Author of the Catalogus Scriptorum Ecclesiae," Speculum 441 (1966): 471-499. Bale's 
catalogue includes an entry describing the "Herculean labours" of one Alan of Lynn, 
. a fifteenth-century Carmelite prior who is reputed to have indexed all available copies 
in England of important medieval works (Illustrium Maioris Britanniae Scrip- 
torum ... Summarium ["Ipswich," i.e. Wesel, 1548], 185). And Bale, before his con- 
version, wrote a sizable "bio-bibliographical" study of the literature of his fellow 
Carmelites, the as yet ViVi^\xh\\%htû Anglorum Heliades (1536). On this work, see Leslie 
P. Fairfield, /o/irt Bale, Mythmaker for the English Reformation (West Lafayette, Ind.: 
Purdue University Press, 1976), 50-53. 

10. On the popularity of these booklists, see Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Press 
as an Agent of Change, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 
1:88-107. 

11. In his New Year's Gift {laboryouse Journey, sig. C7v), Leiand indicated that he had 
given his catalogue the Petrarchan title "De Viris Illustribus," though it would be later 
retitled as Commentarii de Scriptoribus Britannicis (2 vols., 1709) by the Oxford 
printer Anthony Hall. 

12. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. A2v, A7v. 

13. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. A7v. Antonia McLean has noted "there is no proof that 
the state was directly responsible for the loss or destruction of books on a large scale. 
The monastic libraries were dispersed through government indifference rather than by 
deliberate intention." Humanism and the Rise of Science in Tudor England (New York: 
Neale Watson Academic Public, 1972), 90. Yet clearly the policy of Dissolution 
helped to undermine the entire system of book collecting and preservation that had 
existed throughout the Middle Ages. 

14. On Leland's activities on behalf of the Royal Library, see J. R. Liddell, " 'Leiand's' 
Lists of Manuscripts in Lincolnshire Monasteries," English Historical Review 54 
(1939): 88-95. 

15. See Leland's verses on the English New Learning ("a festal crown of men!") in Hoyt 
H. Hudson, "John Leland's List of Early English Humanists," Huntington Library 
Quarterly 2 (1939): 301-04. 

16. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. Bv. 

17. In the same letter, Layton also reports that he had helped institute the king's reforms 
at Oxford by establishing lectures in Greek and Latin to which "every scholar," upon 
penalty, was required to attend. Reprinted in G. H. Cook, éd.. Letters to Cromwell and 
others on the Suppression of the Monasteries (London: John Baker, 1965), 46. 

18. James P. Carley, "John Leland's Cygnea Cantio: A Neglected Tudor River Poem," 
Humanistica Lovaniensia 32 (1983): 234. 

19. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. Br. 

20. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. G2v. 

21. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. E8v. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 77 

22. Baie, laboryouse Journey, sig. G3r. 

23. Quoted in Sidney Lee's entry for Leland in DNB. 

24. On this, see Ernest B. Oilman, Iconoclasm and Poetry in the English Reformation: 
Down Went Dagon (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 36-7. 

25. Leland, in Wood 1: col. 198. 

26. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. B2r. 

27. Leland, "New Year's Oift," in Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. D7v. 

28. Bale, Summarium 6-8. 

29. Herbert Weisinger surveys this contest of bards in "Who Began the Revival of 
Learning?" Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters 30 (1944): 
625-638. See also the so-called "Debate of the Heralds," where spokesmen for both 
England and France boast of their respective nation's glories, canons of learned men 
and women included. One of Bale's contemporaries, John Coke, fired one of the last 
shots in this debate, in The Debate between the Heralds of England and France, rptd. 
with Le Débat des Hérauts D'Armes de France et D'Angleterre, éd. Leopold Pannier 
and M. Paul Meyer (Paris, 1877). 

30. Leland, "New Year's Gift," in Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. D5v. Bale, well aware of 
the prescription of only four empires in the Book of Daniel, is uneasy with calling 
Britain an "empire." In his annotations to Leland 's "New Year's Gift" {laboryouse 
Journey, sig. D6r.), he tries to excuse Leland's suggestion that England is an "impery" 
by appealing to patristic authority; Josephus and other historians. Bale maintains, 
thought the prescriptions did not apply to England because it was for them another 
world beyond the sea. 

31. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. H5v. 

32. Leland, "New Year's Gift," in Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. C5v. 

33. Bale, manuscript note in his epitome of Leland's De Viris Illustribus, quoted in 
Fairfield 116. 

34. Once the reformers had achieved political power, observes F. Smith Fussner, it became 
incumbent upon Protestant apologists like Bale "to justify the origins of authority by 
appealing to history, largely because Protestant churches were not institutionally 
legitimized by tradition or history in the sense that the Roman Catholic Church was," 
in Tudor History and the Historians (New York: Basic Books, 1970), 293 n.92. 

35. J. G. A. Pocock, Politics, Language and Time: Essays on Political Thought and 
History (New York: Atheneum, 1971; rpt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 
1989), 179-80. 

36. Bale, The vocacyon ofJohan Bale to the bishoprick of Ossorie in Irelande ("Rome," 
i.e. Wesel, 1553), sig. B3r. 

37. Bale, vocacyon, sig. B7r. 

38. Lawrence Lipking's contradistinction between "canons and surveys" (or professional 
evaluation and definition of the arts versus empirical fact-gathering by scholars and 
men of leisure) does not apply here: the catalogues of Leland and Bale represent the 
moment just prior to the realization of this split between criticism and antiquarianism 
{The Ordering of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century England [Princeton: Princeton 



78 / Renaissance and Reformation 

University Press, 1970], 13). Leland and Bale are trying to raise the stock of British 
literature, and are presenting it for comparison with the literatures of other nations, all 
within a documentary survey of England's literary history. 

39. This view is supported by Joseph M. Levine, who states flatly that the "antiquarian 
impulse was born of the revival of antiquity," in Humanism and History: Origins of 
Modern English Historiography (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1987), 73. Antonia 

" Gransden offers the counter-argument that "ultimately the alterations which took place 
in historical writing were less the result of ideas derived from the study of the classics, 
than of political and religious exigencies," in Historical Writing in England, 2 vols. 
(London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974-1982), 2:469. 

40. Leland, in Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. B8r. 

41. Leland, in Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. C2r-C3r. 

42. Assertio inclytissimi Arturii Regis Britanniae (London, 1544) fol. 37; rpt. in The 
Famous Historié ofChinon of England by Christopher Middleton, ed. William Edward 
Mead (London: EETS, 1925) pt. 2:146. Mead also reprints Richard Robinson's 1582 
translation of Leiand's text, where the quote appears in pt. 2:89-90. 

43. See Eisenstein 1:294-8, and Theodor E. Mommsen, "Petrarch's Conception of the 
'Dark Ages'," Speculum 17 (1942): 226-242. 

44. Leland, "New Year's Gift," in Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. D7v. 

45. On Leland writing mainly from emotion, see Herschel Baker, The Race of Time 
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967), 91. 

46. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. B4r. 

47. Thomas M. Greene, The Vulnerable Text: Essays on Renaissance Literature (New 
York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1986), 223. Greene examines how the humanists dealt 
with the question of how it is that ancient works retain their meaning through change, 
in The Light in Troy: Imitation and Discovery in Renaissance Poetry (New Haven: 
Yale University Press, 1982), 4-53. 

48. Leland, Commentarii 422. 

49. Leland, Naeniae in mortem Thomae Viati equitis incomparibilis (London, 1542), sig. 
A4v. 

50. Leland, Comme/ifani 421. 

51. Leland, Commentarii 428. Quoted from translation given in John H. Fisher, John 
Gower: Moral Philosopher and Friend of Chaucer (New York: New York University 
Press, 1964), 14. 

52. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. G3r. 

53. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. F8r. 

54. Bale, Scriptorum Illustrium maioris Brytanniae ... Catalogus, 2 vols. (Basel, 1557- 
1559), 1:526. Quoted from translation given in Caroline F.E. Spurgeon, éd.. Five 
Hundred Years of Chaucer Criticism and Allusion, 1357-1900, 3 vols. (Cambridge: 
Cambridge University Press, 1925), 3:26. It is worth speculating whether the Reformist 
booksellers who enlarged Chaucer's canon with anti-clerical tracts were not using 
Chaucer's canonical authority to shield these tracts from official censorship. Was 
Chaucer above censorship? "Canterburye tales. Chancers bokes Gowers bokes" were 



Renaissance et Réforme / 79 

among the few items exempted from prohibition in a 1542/3 "Acte for the Advancement 
of true Religion and for the Abolishment of the Contrary" (Statute 34 and 35 Henry 
VIII, quoted in Spurgeon 1:84-5.) Bale's assertions about Chaucer's anti-clericalism 
are echoed by subsequent polemicists, reaching a peak of outrageousness in Antony 
Cade's claim that Chaucer was known to call the pope "an idle Lawrell, a Marshall of 
Hell, a pround, envious, covetous Lucifer, and Antichrist," in A Justification of the 
Church of England (1630), 63-4. 

55. Frank Kermode, History and Value (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 109. 

56. Bale, Summarium, fol. 154v. 

57. Bale is not entirely insensitive to literary values and he will, like Leland, occasionally 
compare the works of the moderns against the standard of the ancients. His entry for 
Skelton (Catalogus 1 :65 1 ) deals mainly with the poet's confrontations with the Church, 
but Bale also stresses the affinities between Skelton's satires and Horace's, and calls 
the poet another Lucan or Democritus. 

58. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. H5v. 

59. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. H6r. 

60. Bale, 5Mm/ManM/7i, fol. 154v. 

61. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. H5v. 

62. As Donald A. Pease has suggested, author and auctor are necessarily opposed. Whereas 
the long-standing doctrine of auctoritas posited a universal order whose ultimate 
authority was divine rather than secular, the emergence of authorship in the early 
modern era represented the self-authorization, or "self-determination" in writing, of 
the autonomous human subject. See Pease's entry for "Author" in Critical Terms for 
Literary Study, ed. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin (Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press, 1 990), 1 05 - 1 1 7. 

63. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. "Cvr-v", i.e., C3r-v. 

64. John Foxe,^c/^ and Monuments, ed. George Townsend, 8 vols. (London, 1843-1849), 
3:720. 

65. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. F6r. 

66. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. F8v. 

67. Bale and Leland are by no means the last to produce ideologically-inspired catalogues 
of authors. The Anglo-Catholic canon, for example, is defended in John Pits's 
Relationum historicarum de Rebus Anglicis (Paris, 1619). Among the nationalists, 
Thomas Dempster, in his Historia Ecclesiastical Gentis Scotorum (Bononiae, 1627), 
and Sir James Ware, in his De Scriptoribus Hiberniae (Dublin, 1639), defend the 
honour of Scotland and Ireland, respectively. 

68. On the antiquaries' relucant acceptance of the Albion myths, see T. D. Kendrick, British 
Antiquity (London: Methuen, 1950), 99-133. 

69. John Stow, The Annales, or Generall Chronicle of England, continued and aug- 
mented ... by Edmund Howes (London, 1615), 811. 

70. William Camden, Remains Concerning Britain, ed. R.D. Dunn (Toronto: University 
of Toronto Press, 1984), 3. 

71. Camden 288. 



80 / Renaissance and Reformation 

72. Camden 295. 

73. Camden 344. 

74. Camden 294. 

75. Ernst Robert Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Willard 
R. Trask (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), 256. 

76. For more on the dispersal of Bale's library, see Honor McCusker, "Books and 
Manuscripts Formerly in the Possession of John Bale," The Library, 4th ser., 16 (1936): 
144-165. 

77. Leland, "New Year's Gift," in Bale, laboryouse Journey , sig. Dr. Nothing reveals more 
clearly the antiquaries' desire to combine valorization with documentation than this 
notion of "accurate celebration." 

78. Leland refers only very briefly to the destruction in his "Gift": "I haue conserued many 
good authors, the whych otherwyse had ben lyke to haue peryshed, to no small 
incommodyte of good letters. Of ye which parte remayne in the most magnificent 
libraryes of your royall palaces" (in Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. C2r.) 

79. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. D3v. 

80. Bale, laboryouse Journey, sig. C5r. 

81. "A Short View of the State of Knowledge, Literature, and Taste, in this Country, from 
the Accession of King Edward I to ... Henry IV," New Annual Register for the year 
i78^ (London, 1785), xii. 



Book Reviews / Comptes rendus 



John A. Marino. Pastoral Economics in the Kingdom of Naples, Baltimore and 
London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988. pp. xii, 381. 

This is a formidable work containing a vast amount of information on the history 
of the Dogana or Customs house of the kingdom of Naples, the institution through 
which the crown controlled transhumance of all animals in South Italy. Indeed the 
dogana was central to the general economy of much of the kingdom, since through it 
the crown could to some extent control how much land was devoted to grain production 
and how much to pastoralism. It was the major source of crown revenue, theoretically 
raising taxes on all sheep in the Regno. Marino, aiming at "total history" in the tradition 
of the Annales school, deals with the Dogana in its social, economic and political 
contexts, showing the interrelationships between them. He emphasises that the Dogana 
was, from its inception in the fifteenth century, a capitalistic enterprise in as much as it 
was a large scale, profit-oriented organization of state control of transhumant pas- 
toralism was much older and was dictated as much by a concern for good government 
as for the maximisation of profits. Hence a perennial tension in the organization as the 
authorities tried to maintain the ideals of equality of treatment and opportunity for all 
members of the Dogana while, at the same time, inevitably responding to the demands 
of the wealthy, to ordinary market pressures and to the need to make a profit from 
doganal taxation. 

Among the most pressing problems confronting the officers of the Dogana was 
how to maintain a balance between agriculture and pastoralism. A tendency to 
favour the latter arose partly from an ideology of pastoralism somewhat influenced 
by its literary image which, as the author insists, hardly reflected either the harsh 
realities of a shepherd's life or the sophistication of some sheep owners and even 
shepherds. 

The book deals extensively with the organization of the dogana. It sorts out the 
details of some of the more peculiar doganal practices — for example that of 
encouraging sheep owners to ensure adequate pasture in time of shortage by 
declaring and paying tax on more sheep than they really had; or the voce price 
system whereby an official price for wool and other products was set and paid in 
advance to the producers (in effect a kind of concealed loan), a system which 
became almost standard in the late seventeenth century. 



82 / Renaissance and Reformation 

A substantial part of the book deals with the effect of the Dogana on the general 
economy of the kingdom of Naples. The profitability of the dogana fluctuated and 
latterly, as the population of Naples rose, its monopoly became very harmful to the 
prosperity of the kingdom generally; but it always brought in sufficient profit to the 
crown to make its abolition unlikely. It also, by its very nature, encouraged 
corruption in the administration despite the efforts to eliminate this, and the author 
traces in some detail the attempted reforms and the forces working against them 
throughout its history. 

One section of the book is devoted to the sale of pastoral products, and the profits 
made from this. The main markets were in northern Italy, with Venice the most 
important buyer. Locally the sale of pastoral products was channelled through the 
fair of Foggia and the records of this supply the author with a mine of fascinating 
information on the economics of this aspect of South Italian sheep raising. The book 
concludes with a section on opinions of critics writing for and against pastoralism 
in South Italy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, setting them in the context 
of changing ideas of political economy generally. 

In a book which contains so much useful material, it may seem churlish to ask 
for more. There are, however, a few points which need to be dealt with more 
fully in what claims to be a complete study of south Italian pastoralism. Marino 
concentrates rather excessively on the main grazing grounds of the Tavoliere 
and the most important graziers, the Abruzzesi. He makes it clear that there were 
doganal pastures away from the Tavoliere, but we get very little idea of how this 
part of the system worked. There were various "overflow" pastures in Basilicata 
in addition to some which were used regularly, notably at Monte Sellicole. But 
there were also numbers of sheep which migrated between the hills and the 
Metapontine plain. The owners of these, after considerable argument, bought 
what was in effect exemption from the Dogana for an annual payment of 3000 
ducats. (G. Racioppi, Storia dei popoli delta Lucania e delta Basilicata, vol. 2, 
Rome, 1899, pp. 220-222.) though they were still supposed to declare their sheep 
until the mid-eighteenth century; and even this caused resentment. Marino does 
not quite ignore the "transazione di Basilicata" but his treatment of it is so cursory 
as to be almost misleading and he says nothing about a similar one for Montepeloso 
(Irsina). These are perhaps minor points (the numbers of sheep in Basilicata were 
small compared with those using the Tavoliere and the stations linked with it) but 
the effect is to make the account seem rather one-sided. Similarly the competition 
for the Abruzzi sheep posed by the papal Dogana dei pascoli is barely discussed, 
though the early Neapolitan kings made efforts, not wholly successful, to lure 
graziers from outside the kingdom to their own pastures, presumably to the 
detriment of the papal institution. (A. Ryder, The Kingdom of Naples under Alfonso 
the Magnanimous. Oxford, 1976, pp. 361-2) 

The other main lacuna lies in any discussion on the proprietors of the land 
allocated as pasture to the sheep owners and shepherds. Much of this land was royal 



Renaissance et Réforme / 83 

patrimony but other land was in baronial hands or formed part of church estates. 
The owners received rent for it but, on the usual pastures, the dogana had complete 
control over its allocation. In times of high demand, the dogana could also allocate 
land normally held by the barons for their own use. The author indicates that this 
led to tension between landowners and the dogana, but gives no real discussion of 
the issues involved. 

The problem of baronial tolls also needs to be discussed. These were disliked 
by the royal authorities, and in the sixteenth century orders were issued to 
eliminate many illegal tolls. (G. Galanti, Nuova descrizione storica e geografica 
delle Sicilie, Naples, 1788, vol. 2, p. 381) These, however, had to be repeated later, 
so the tolls obviously remained a problem. Moreover, some were legal and con- 
stituted part of the declared income of a fief in the sixteenth century. (Account of 
the estate of Gravina publ. N. Cortese, "Feudi e feudatari napoletani della prima 
meta del CinquecQnto," Archive Storico delle provincie Napoletane, 1930, p. 59 ff. 
on tolls raised on animals going to the Murge through Garagnone.) Some assessment 
of how far these were a factor in the economy of transhumant sheep rearing would 
have been in order. 

In all, then, the main criticism of the book is that it concentrates perhaps 
excessively on the mechanisms and accounts of the dogana itself and on the 
records conserved in Foggia and Simancas — an understandable bias in view of 
the dispersed nature of the other Italian evidence since the destruction of the 
Archive at Naples, but one that might have been made a little clearer in, at least, 
a sub-title. Another improvement in the title would be some dates. There is very 
little here (three pages) on pastoralism prior to the establishment of the Dogana 
in 1447. 

The book is densely packed with information and its style does not lend itself 
to easy reading. It contains several infelicities — what, for example, does "the 
Saccione above or Barletta below Puglia" mean? Some of the tables, particularly 
those on the credits and debits of the Dogana could have been more precise, both 
in date (it would have been useful to have fluctuations in the doganal budget 
over the whole period presented in tabular form) and in categories of expenditure 
and receipt. But these are minor problems in a book as useful and interesting as 
this one. A more serious flaw is the lack of a bibliography. There are 58 pages 
of endnotes which indicate that the author has done an immense amount of 
reading but, though second citations refer the reader to the first and full citation, 
later ones do not, so that a good deal of the utility of the reference material is 
lost to all but the most painstaking reader. No doubt the publishers are respon- 
sible for this omission but it was a serious error. 

That said, however, this is an admirable book and the sheer volume and erudition of 
what it does contain make it an important contribution to the history of South Italy. 

CAROLA M. SMALL, University of Alberta 



84 / Renaissance and Reformation 

The Plays of John Lyly, edited by Carter A. Daniel. Lewisburg: Bucknell Univer- 
sity Press; London and Toronto: Associated University Presses, 1988. Pp. i, 374. 

The rise in John Lyly's reputation as a dramatist over the last thirty years or so is 
clearly seen in the work of scholars such as Jonas Barish, G.K. Hunter, Robert Y. 
Turner, Michael Best, Joseph W. Houppert, Peter Saccio, Susan D. Thomas, and 
David Bergeron: it is no longer considered fashionable or just to dismiss Lyly on 
the grounds that his delicate, graceful, and often carefully-crafted plays are flimsy 
and insubstantial. Oxford's 1967 reprinting of R.W. Bond's The Complete Works of 
John Lyly (originally published in three volumes in 1902), and Anne B. Lancashire's 
1969 edition of Gallathea and Midas for the Regents Renaissance Drama Series (to 
which Daniel nowhere refers) are further signs of a lively academic interest in this 
too-often underrated dramatist. Nonetheless, Lyly's plays remain largely the 
preserve of specialists; to others Lyly is little more than the man who bestowed the 
dubious gift of euphuism on the world. It is the educated general reader's neglect 
and misconstruction of Lyly as a playwright that Carter A. Daniel's new edition of 
Lyly's plays is primarily designed to rectify. 

More specifically, Daniel's purpose, as explained in his bibliographical notes 
(25), is "to make Lyly's plays conveniently available to the modern reader without 
any more scholarly encumbrances than are necessary." Although "is it not intended 
to provide variant textual readings or complete variorum commentaries or to break 
any new bibliographic ground," Daniel has in fact "completely reedited" these plays 
"from microfilm copies of the printed quartos of the 1580s and 1590s and the 
collected Sixe Court Comedies of 1632," so his edition is of interest to the specialist 
in Lyly as well as to the more general reader to whom the introduction, the 
afterwords to the plays, and the endnotes are directed. 

On the whole, Daniel achieves his stated purpose quite well: Lyly's plays are now 
made generally accessible by virtue of Daniel's being a modern-spelling edition and of 
its being in one attractively-printed, eminendy-readable volume (the first one -volume 
edition of the plays since Edward Blount's in 1632, in fact). The level of language and 
the tone in Daniel's own prose are well-suited to the goal of making Lyly attractive and 
meaningful to the modem non-specialist reader: his writing is relaxed, informal, and, 
on occasion, colloquial. Only a strict purist would respond with outrage to his rendering 
natura naturans as "Nature doing its thing" (362, note 25 to Campaspe). Still, three 
features in the overall presentation of the volume impede its ease of use by, for example, 
undergraduate students: first, the lines are not numbered, so one is virtually forced to 
refer to individual passages by page number rather than by the conventional act, scene, 
and line numbers, and, of course, finding a passage alluded to by a critic but not quoted 
by him is made more difficult; second, the act and scene numbers are not indicated at 
the top of the page, so locating a passage takes longer than it should; and third, the notes, 
though fairly numerous, are not generally lengthy, and should have been presented 
as footnotes rather than as endnotes. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 85 

The introduction (divided into a section on euphuism, one on children's plays and 
court plays, a biographical slcetch of Lyly, an encomiastic account of Lyly's role in 
the evolution of Tudor drama, and a discussion of the nature of the plays) provides 
the modern reader with a brief but serviceable orientation to the plays that follow, 
and to the circumstances of their original composition and production. Daniel is 
especially concerned to alert his readers to the constraints in theme, tone, subject 
matter, emotional range, etc., imposed on Lyly by the fact that most of these plays 
were written for child rather than adult actors and for presentation before Queen 
Elizabeth I. He dismisses the rather passé view that Lyly's plays depict Elizabethan 
court intrigues in allegorical form, and sees as the source of their importance Lyly's 
ability to make theme the unifying and organizing forced in a play, his use of a 
principle of "graduated spectacle" whereby the most spectacular scene is reserved 
for the end of the play, and his ability to delineate character through dialogue. The 
least satisfying part of the introduction is Daniel's defense of euphuism as essen- 
tially the expression of Lyly's comic spirit, as a "sort of smiling parody of over- 
earnest innocence" (12), and as, because self-mocking, a "built-in protection against 
ridicule" in all Lyly's works (13). This defense is not adequate to account for the 
variety of contexts in which euphuism is found nor the subtlety of effects Lyly often 
achieves with it; Daniel's discussion would have profited from a serious considera- 
tion of Jonas Barish's study ("The Prose Style of John Lyly", ELH 23 (1956), 
(14-35), but nowhere does he direct his readers to this acute analysis. 

The afterwords, which range from two to four pages in length, are too brief for 
detailed critical treatment of plays. However, Daniel does a creditable job, on the 
whole, of illustrating Lyly's organizing his plays by themes rather than by plot 
exigencies or by slavishly following his sources, of arguing for Lyly's use of 
dialogue for differentiation of character, of suggesting Lyly's versatile use of the 
stage resources at his disposal, and of providing a quick survey of some of the major 
readings of the plays. The only major lapse is his claim that none of the earlier 
versions of the Endymion story portrays Endymion as the lover rather than as the 
beloved (195-196). As Susan D. Thomas points out in an article not mentioned by 
Daniel Ç'Endimion and Its Sources," CL 30 (1978), 35-52), this version of the story 
can be found in Pliny (Natural History, II. vi. 41^3). 

The notes are often very good (e.g. the explanation of points in note 11 to 
Gallathea), but there are some strange lapses and some inconsistent assumptions 
about the intended audience. Some references are too imprecise to be of much 
practical use to the reader. For example, note 45 to Sapho andPhao tells us that the 
"stories of Cupid's love for Psyche, and Venus's for Adonis, were widely told;" it 
is not clear how this is to help the reader, since those who know the stories 
presumably know that they were widely told. Note 1 1 {o Midas tells us that "Phaeton 
lost control of the sun 's chariot and nearly burned up the world," but not that Phaeton 
met a fiery end, and it is Phaeton's end that is the point of Lyly's allusion. Note 92 
to Gallathea tells us that in ''Oyid's Metamorphoses, Iphis and lanthes were indeed 



86 / Renaissance and Reformation 

sex-changed — although not by Venus." Again, one wonders whom this note is 
designed to help; readers who need to be told, for example, who Psyche and Circe 
are (Gallathea, note 67), will be very much in the dark about Iphis and lanthes. 
Surely a recounting of the main lines of the story would help the curious decide for 
themselves about Lyly's purpose in alluding to it. Daniel typically refers to classical 
authors by name only, with the occasional title included; more complete references 
would not constitute undue "scholarly encumbrances" to the general reader who is 
tackling Lyly in the first place. A few notes contain errors that should be corrected 
in any subsequent edition; note 6 to Campaspe mistakenly identifies Pallas as Venus 
rather than as Athena; note 27 to Sapho andPhao has the Greeks themselves actually 
taking the wooden horse into Troy; and note 64 to Gallathea assumes that Silenus 
is supposed to be an artist, whereas what Lyly is alluding to, and wittily reversing, 
are the ancient images of the ugly satyr, Silenus, which concealed within themselves 
wondrous images of the gods. Note 80 to Gallathea ("'Jovialist' and 'Venerian' 
mean born under the signs of Jupiter and Venus") is misleading since Jupiter and 
Venus are not zodiacal signs, nor are the signs ruled by them the whole story; a 
better note that would still avoid the complications of astrological theory would 
read: "one whose character and destiny are strongly influenced by the planets 
Jupiter and Venus,," or "are born when the influences of the planets Jupiter and 
Venus were especially strong." Finally, there are a few typographical errors: 106, 
"betwween;" 145, "Diana's numphs;" 370, note 74 is missing the slash between the 
lines of verse; 372, note 18, "King" should read "Queen," and 381, note 180 seems 
to be missing a word. 

Lyly as dramatist deserves a wider and more sympathetic audience than he has 
hitherto received this century, and Daniel's edition, despite the limitations noted 
above, is generally well-tailored to fostering that renewal of appreciation. 

J. MICHAEL RICHARDSON, Lakehead University 

Robert Aulotte, Afonffl/gne; "Essais", Paris, P.U.F., 1988. 

Chaque fervent des Essais s'y mire et, plus ou moins, les fait siens. Le danger est 
de s'y enfermer. Aussi, pour qui aime Montaigne, est-il tonique de savoir comment 
les lisent leurs meilleurs commentateurs. Le diligent lecteur qui ouvrira le Mon- 
taigne: Essais de Robert Aulotte ne quittera l'ouvrage qu'après l'avoir terminé. 

Dans sa concision, qu'exige la collection, cet ouvrage renferme une subtile et 
rare richesse. Son titre n'a pas été choisi à la légère; les deux points qui séparent 
les deux noms montrent assez que ni l'auteur, ni l'oeuvre ne seront oubliés. "Essais " 
et non "les Essais ", car nous voyons page 1 que la forme la plus couramment utilisée 
date de l'édition posthume. Donc le texte en formation ou achevé, mais dont 
Montaigne fut uniquement responsable. Robert Aulotte porte ainsi un double regard 



Renaissance et Réforme / 87 

sur les Essais et sur leur auteur, qu'il accompagne surtout pendant les vingt années 
au cours desquelles l'oeuvre s'est constituée. Comme elle est consubstantielle à son 
auteur, il est peu de remarques qui ne le concernent, peu d'observations sur 
Montaigne qui ne servent à expliquer le livre. C'est de loin le meilleur parti, car ce 
serait un vain débat de se demander qui parle dans les Essais. La réponse est 
évidemment Montaigne, mais Montaigne dans sa librairie, en train de lire ou de 
relire ses écrivains préférés, réfléchissant sur ce qu'il vient d'y découvrir ou d'y 
apprendre: faits curieux, beaux vers, sentences, vues profondes ou qui s'examine, 
se regarde vivre et penser, se sent vieillir, se souvient de l'allégresse de sa jeunesse 
ou qui dicte ou bien écrit un essai; c'est aussi l'auteur qui ne se contente pas de 
"mettre en rôle" ses songes ou ses idées, mais cherche à leur donner leur plus juste 
expression, se pare. Cela, Robert Aulotte le fait merveilleusement sentir: il passe 
sans cesse de Montaigne aux Essais, des Essais à Montaigne, puisque, matière de 
son livre, l'auteur s'est vu façonner par lui. 

La présentation rappelle l'évolution de la critique depuis Villey. Le premier 
chapitre suit Montaigne jusqu'en 1579 dans une démarche naturelle, où une parfaite 
information sur l'époque et sur l'auteur laisse à Robert Aulotte toute liberté de se 
limiter à ce qui pour lui est essentiel. L'ouverture en est belle: "Sur les confins du 
Périgord et du Bordelais, une demeure seigneuriale avec un large "prospect" sur un 
environnement de forêts et de vignobles: c'est là... " (6). Elle donne le ton, crée un 
climat de poésie que viennent bientôt entretenir de brèves citations de Montaigne. 
Le chaptire II présente clairement les Essais de 1580, fournissant des réponses 
toujours pertinentes aux questions qu'ils posent: "le matériau premier des Essais 
n'est pas constitué de simples "notes de lecture" enregistrées sans idée directrice, 
mais bien d'éléments regroupés pour servir à la réalisation, par Montaigne, de son 
projet de se connaître, et de se faire connaître dans sa réalité vraie" (16-17). Il étudie 
l'ordre des chapitres, passe en revue les hypothèses qui le concerent, signale les 
liaisons, les "massifs", les associations thématiques, en insistant sur le fait que 
l'oeuvre est "a-systématique" (19). Pour Robert Aulotte, dans cette édition de 1580, 
la pensée de Montaigne, qui est vraiment personnelle, "se nourrit pourtant toujours 
de lectures" (21), et les sources privilégiées sont, avec les oeuvres morales de 
Cicéron, Sénèque, Lucrèce et Plutarque dont l'influence est majeure. Le chapitre 
III est consacré à la pièce maîtresse du Livre II, 1' "Apologie de Raymond Sebond". 
C'est l'occasion pour Robert Aulotte de définir le "pyrrhonisme personnel" de 
Montaigne qui l'empêche de tenir pour vraies les idées reçues sans les avoir au 
préalable examinées, mais ne l'empêche pas d'avoir son propre jugement, méthode 
qui lui fait découvrir que "dans un monde inconstant et inconsistant, les données de 
sa conscience avaient, elles, une réelle et solide existence" (37). Se concilie fort 
bien avec ce pyrrhonisme le fidéisme souvent mis en doute et soupçonné parfois 
d'hypocrisie. Un fiat parmi d'autres, l'importance que Montaigne déclare attacher 
à l'oraison dominicale, prouve à mes yeux sa bonne foi ("le patenostre", I, Ivi). 



88 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Transition nécessaire, le chaptire IV se nourrit de biographie explicative. Il fait 
une large place au voyage en Italie, Journal de voyage. Il rappelle les expériences 
qui ont singulièrement mûri Montaigne: la guerre vue de près pendant le deuxième 
mandat municipal, les responsabilités du pouvoir, la fréquentation de civilisations 
et de cultures différentes, la peste avec ses horreurs et avec l'héroïsme tranquille 
des paysans. Ce n'est plus tout à fait le même homme qui parle alors. Il a une vue 
plus large, plus universelle des hommes et du monde; il se connaît de mieux en 
mieux. Et si son moi, champ d'étude privilégié depuis longtemps, l'intéresse chaque 
jour davantage, il ne s'abstient pas — il ne s'était jamais abstenu — de regarder autour 
de lui et de donner des conseils. Les Essais sont aussi l'oeuvre d'un témoin de son 
temps et d'un moraliste. 

Voici l'édition de 1588, in 4" cette fois, mais toujours "massive, compacte" dans 
sa typographie. Robert Aulotte note ce qui unit certaines parties du Livre III: 
"l'honnête" pour les premiers chapitres, "la dangereuse et vaine suffisance de nos 
esprits boiteux [ . . . ] et la naturelle sagesse des "simples" et de Socrate" (57-58) pour 
les derniers. Il insiste sur le fait qu'une seule voix domine désormais "dans les 
Essais: celle de Montaigne" (59) qui était devenu pleinement indépendant dans 
1 '"Apologie" "chapitre charnière ou coupure". 

Le chapitre VI voit le temps s'accélérer pour Montaigne, qui n'en laisse rien 
perdre. En dépit de la maladie, son activité politique comme son activité littéraire 
ne diminuent pas. Il relit ses auteurs préférés, en découvre d'autres, reprend son 
livre, dont il développe telle phrase, tel paragraphe, cherchant souvent à donner plus 
de force ou d'élégance à sa pensée, trouvant toujours de nouvelles citations pour 
l'illustrer. Quand il le juge bon, Robert Aulotte explique, commente, justifie, avec 
finesses, d'un trait sûr. Des contradictions se rencontrent chez Montaigne, "parce 
que l'essai passe et repasse sans cesse de la description à l'axiologie", parce que 
1 '"autoportrait est tout ensemble déchiffrement et construction" (63). Il estime que 
Montaigne "était souvent un passionné, un impatient et presque toujours un inquiet" 
(63). Si Montaigne n'a jamais caché son admiration pour les âmes d'élite: 
Alexandre, Julien, Caton le jeune, Epaminondas, la femme du voisin de Pline le 
Jeune, Arria, femme de Cecinna Paetus, Pompeia Paulina (II, xxxv, xxxvi), son 
modèle est évidemment Socrate (68). Et si Montaigne a voulu que le chapitre "De 
l'Expérience" fût le chapitre final, c'est qu'"en dehors de l'expérience de soi, il n'y 
avait plus, pour lui, de voie nouvelle à frayer vers la vérité, vers la sagesse, vers le 
bonheur" (72). 

Asa mort, Montaigne laissait son exemplaire des Essais couvert d'additions (plus 
de mille). Robert Aulotte fait l'histoire de ce fameux exemplaire de Bordeaux, 
depuis les copies jusqu'aux éditions de Marie de Gournay, de 1595 et des années 
suivantes, jusqu'à la dernière qu'elle ait surveillée en 1635. Quarante ans consacrés 
au culte de Montaigne et aux monuments destinés à en assurer la durée. 

Robert Aulotte réserve un chapitre à la sagesse de Montaigne, "sagesse du 
plaisir", "art de vivre heureux", qui ne peut éviter les "pensements de la mort" mais 



Renaissance et Réforme / 89 

sait les apprivoiser et les dominer. Quelques mots suffisent à Robert Aulotte pour 
énumérer les principes qui aiiiment "la morale personnelle" de Montaigne: "aimer 
la vie" et, pour cela, "accepter le temps", "accepter les autres", "s'accepter soi- 
même", "étendre la joie", "apprécier à sa juste valeur le bonheur présent" (92-93). 

Tout le monde s'accorde pour célébrer l'art de Montaigne, mais ce n'est pas 
une entreprise aisée de l'analyser correctement. Robert Aulotte y réussit avec 
bonheur. Il admire le "jeu polyphonique des citations et du moi" et les "multiples 
harmoniques d'une écriture particulièrement poétique" (101). En deux formules, 
l'essentiel est dit. Suit l'étude des emprunts, des citatins et de leur intégration 
au texte, qu'elles soient choisies pour leur autorité ou pour leur valeur 
décorative. Place est faite à la rhétorique, condamnée par Montaigne et pourtant 
souvent utilisée dans Velocutio; mais les figures qui constellent les Essais ne 
sont jamais de vains ornements; elles donnent plus de force et de lumière à la 
pensée. Quant au "parler" qu'aime Montaigne, Robert Aulotte le définit comme 
"une écriture de l'intériorité, unissant prose et poésie" (119). Tout est excellent 
dans ce chapitre qui n'oublie aucun aspect de l'art de Montaigne, car Robert 
Aulotte possède un diagnostic sûr, la sensibilité, le sens des nuances, le goût. 
Dans les dernières pages, il dégage les grandes tendances de la "réception" des 
Essais en se réservant quelques lignes. J'y élève une belle remarque: "le livre 
s'ouvre sur une attente de mort, mais il se ferme sur un salubre souhait de vie 
vouée à la poésie, harmonieusement vécue" (122) et un voeu: "Puissent tous ses 
lecteurs lui être dans leur entière liberté de jugement, les "faux amis" que lui 
méritent ses loyaux Essais!" (123). 

Robert Aulotte observe d'un oeil amical et perspicace au long des années et 
des pages Montaigne et ses Essais; il se fait pour nous le guide le plus attentif et 
le mieux informé, s'attardant tantôt sur le maître, tantôt sur le livre, s'identifiant 
presque à l'auteur. Et, dans cette exploration qui, en apparence, a la nonchalance 
d'une promenade, il va au fond des choses, ne cessant pas de chercher la vérité, la 
réalité des Essais. Le charme du style pourrait faire négliger la qualité historique 
et philosophique de l'étude, qu'il ne faut pas hésiter à relire: on y découvre toujours 
de nouvelles richesses. Pour ne pas en citer la plus grande partie, je me limite à 
trois exemples. Ecoutez Robert Aulotte parler de l'Apologie de Sebond (p.29-38), 
de Socrate (p. 68-70), des conditions du "sainement et gayement vivre" (p. 91). Les 
Essais sont un monde. Le voyageur qui s'y aventure seul peut le parcourir avec 
enthousiasme. S'il prend Robert Aulotte pour pilote, il y découvrira avec admira- 
tion des cités, des régions inconnues et y verra, plus vivant que jamais, Montaigne. 
Ce livre devient vite un ami dont on ne se sépare pas aisément, d'abord parce qu'il 
vous aide à comprendre la pensée de Montaigne, à mieux apprécier son art, mais 
aussi parce que le style de Robert Aulotte, par un miracle de sympathie ou de 
symbiose, a pris la "semblance" de celui de son auteur d'élection. 

JEAN LARMAT, Université de Nice 



90 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Margaret Loftus Ranald, Shakespeare & His Social Context: Essays in Osmotic 
Knowledge and Literary Interpretation. New York: AMS Press, 1987. Pp. 288. 

Shakespeare & His Social Context, by Margaret Ranald, reproduces her articles, 
published over some twenty-five years, surveying Shakespeare's reliance on a 
"shared background of knowledge and assumptions" hypothetically typical of his 
day (xi). This osmotic knowledge includes the information, the moral and be- 
havioral assumptions, and the shared identity and religion of Shakespeare and his 
contemporaries. To expose this cultural frame of reference, Ranald draws on 
semiotics, matrimonial law, precepts of feminine behavior, manners and mores, 
ritual, the rules of siege warfare, and the laws of chivalry. 

The book is organized in four parts: The Pathway into Marriage; The Way of 
Wifely Behavior; Women Without Power; and Men Who Lose Power. The first and 
largest part surveys the comedies, identifying A// '5 Well as a precursor to the late 
romances. Part Two examines Errors, Shrew, and "The Indiscretions of Des- 
demona," linking these comedies and Othello through socially-perceived roles for 
women in wooing, wedding, and wifely behavior. Part Three allies Lucrèce and 
"three historical ladies," Ranald's label for representative stages in female life: 
maid, wife, and widow. Part Four engages the dichotomy of masculine power and 
feminine powerlessness in an examination of Richard II and Macbeth, focussing on 
the inverted ritual in the degradation of Richard and the divestiture in Macbeth, 
King Lear, Timon of Athens, and Henry VIII. 

Part I reveals Shakespeare's dependence on the fundamental impediments to 
marriage in Elizabethan law and custom. Though she denies him "revolutionary 
credentials," Ranald concludes that Shakespeare's comedies indicate "his apprecia- 
tion of women as teachers of love, as partners in marriage, and above all as friendly 
equals and companions" (239). In the histories and tragedies, however, she affirms 
that Shakespeare's feminine characters revert to more traditional roles to become 
systemic victims of masculine power. Clothed in words, Shakespeare's comic 
heroines stand at the moral centre of the action. Conversely, women in the tragedies, 
and those male figures construed as essentially feminine, resort to words as expres- 
sion and confirmation of their frustration and powerlessness. 

"The education of young men into love-worthiness," Ranald observes, "is a 
pervasive theme of Shakespeare's comedies" (51). Even in The Two Gentlemen 
Ranald finds Julia at the moral centre of the action, for she functions as "expositor, 
commentator, servant, go-between and above all else as educator" (56). In Mer- 
chant, she identifies Portia similarly as the "moral, educative centre of the play" 
(61), whose dual mission is to save Antonio from death while defining the limits of 
friendship and love. Increasingly, Ranald finds Shakespeare interprets marriage as 
a basis for mutuality, tolerance, and reciprocity. 

In Part Two, Ranald examines social convention in Errors, arguing that Shakespeare 
establishes his own pattern for marriage comedies: a matrimonial relationship is 



Renaissance et Réforme / 91 

challenged by an independent woman. The woman usually accommodates her outward 
conduct to that of the man, but she shows such freedom of spirit that roles and attitudes 
are redefined in a marriage evolving toward mutuality and companionship. As expected, 
The Shrew exemplifies the formula. In it, Ranald finds an amalgam of two approaches 
to taming: falconry and the conduct books of Elizabethan England. 

Next, Ranald reminds us that Othello's theme of love and marriage is traditionally 
the province of comedy, and the mistaken cuckold, the jealous husband, and the 
January-May marriage belong to farce rather than Italianate revenge tragedy (135). 
Ranald then assesses Desdemona's conduct against the behavior of the Elizabethan 
ideal woman. Like the comic heroines preceding her, she demonstrates self-confidence 
and enterprise, qualities counter to the traditional Elizabethan code of ideal feminine 
behavior. Ranald argues that an understanding of Elizabeth conventions of female 
behavior indicates Desdemona's partial responsibility for the tragic resolution. 

In Part Three, Ranald examines the vocabulary and practices of siege warfare in The 
Rape of Lucrèce where Lucrèce is a citadel of honor, both her own and her husband's. 
Her defence of the citadel is based, Ranald finds, on legal and quasi-legal imperatives: 
"knighthood and gentility, the obligation of office, the laws of morality, holy human 
law, and matrimonial law" (164). Lucrèce 's description of Troy acts as a paradigm of 
the action, "pulling together the central concepts of rape, treachery, siege, and the 
helplessness of women in a world of masculine power" (168). This reading enables 
Ranald to introduce three of Shakespeare's historical feminine characters: Margaret of 
Anjou, Constance of Brittany, and Katherine of Aragon. In plays portraying men as the 
action principle and women as passive, nurturing and docile, each woman is victimized 
by a masculine drive to power. Shakespeare portrays cruel Margaret as a violation of 
stereo-typical femininity, Constance as a maternal figure of lamentation and Katherine 
as a sacrifice for the future of a greater England. 

In Part Four, "The Degradation of Richard II," Ranald demonstrates that 
Shakespeare draws on rituals of chivalric, military, and ecclesiastical degradation 
for the inverted rite of Richard's discoronation (192). She finds a counterpart to 
Richard's ritual degradation in at least four other Shakespearean plays, most notably 
Lear, where the theme of stripping encompasses both divestiture and development 
of self-knowledge. Ranald identifies similar degradation in Timon, where, reduced 
to the lowest quality of existence, Timon reaches a "nihilistic conclusion in the 
centre of his own private hell" (230). While the significance of clothing imagery in 
Macbeth has long been recognized, Ranald finds in it an index of Macbeth's moral 
state, and determines that clothing and unclothing form a clearly-defined pattern 
through which major characters undergo a process of reduction. 

As a source of information about English social law and chivalric and ecclesias- 
tical ceremony, Shakespeare & His Social Context is an invaluable reference. 
Moreover, as a moderate examination of marital practices, social attitudes, and the 
role of women in Shakespeare's drama, it represents the best of recent feminine 
scholarship. In readable, attractive prose, Ranald explicates the arcane wordings of 



92 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Elizabethan law, courtesy and behavior handbooks, and fine distinctions between 
professional terms. Unfortunately, her coordination of articles written over decades is 
occasionally arbitrary, as Ranald struggles to integrate materials as diverse as imagery 
in tragedy, "plaints" in Lucrèce, and the nature of powerlessness. Inevitably, an 
imbalance occurs, for Part One occupies almost half the text, moving eclectically 
through the comedies, especially the lyrical. Part Two, in returning to beginnings and 
examining Errors and The Shrew, is reminiscent of a flash-back. Lucrèce and Des- 
demona share similarities, to be sure, but there is a giant step for woman between The 
Rape of Lucrèce and Othello. The fourth part,a catch-all for men who lose power, argues 
strenuously for analogy between loss of power by men and the contemporary power- 
lessness of women but seems basically an add-on rather than a completion. Occasional- 
ly, too, "osmotic knowledge" becomes simply a convenient rationalization for feminist 
thematics without a contemporary political agenda. At other times, it relies unrealisti- 
cally on the hypothetical understanding of the average Elizabethan. 

Ranald's collection rewards close study, however, if only for Part One, for her 
rehabilitation of All's Well and Lucrèce, and for her examination of representative 
women and the degradation of men without power. Supporting generally-accepted 
moderate interpretations of Shakespeare's plays, Shakespeare & His Social Context 
demonstrates the indispensability of a knowledge of Elizabethan civil law and 
contract, particularly matrimonial law, and the manners and mores associated with 
relations between the sexes in the dramatist's day. 

BARRY THORNE, Queen's University 



Claude V. Palisca. Humanism in Italian Renaissance Musical Thought. New 
Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1987. Pp. xiii, 47L 

Occasionally, the scholarly community celebrates the appearance of a truly sig- 
nificant and magisterial study written by an acknowledged specialist — in this case, 
the publication of Claude Palisca's monograph on musical humanism. The book 
caps a life-long engagement with music discourse from the fifteenth to the early 
seventeenth centuries. And the result is a virtuoso performance, a recreation of the 
issues by means of the meticulous investigation of primary sources. This is evident 
in the myriad citations presented throughout the book, citations in which the original 
languages have parallel-column translation into English. The citations are there not 
so much to demonstrate Palisca's humanistic erudition (which of course they do) 
but rather to illustrate points raised in the text itself. There is thus a continuous 
narrative, although context and investigative apparatus are not always correlated 
from chapter to chapter. 

The Preface is a preface to Chapter One, the exordium proper, "Introduction: An 
Italian Renaissance in Music?" In these sections we read that attempts to explain 



Renaissance et Réforme / 93 

the stylistic elements of the music in terms of any kind of renaissance, let alone a 
revival of ancient music— ^which was (and probably still is) impossible — will 
always be inadequate (pp. 4-5). Palisca maintains that such explanations penetrate 
no further than the "audible surface of a musical culture, the essence of which must 
be sought beneath." For those unacquainted with sacred cows in musicology, it must 
be mentioned that this statement is for some the matador's cape or at least the 
picador's lance, for it dismisses an entire class of literature that either attacks, 
defends, or simply assumes a range of concepts about the existence of renaissance 
style/s in music. The dialectical tactic here is not a coup de grace but a veronica as 
the author invites us to sidestep the horns of this dilemma and to consider instead 
the "Renaissance musical scene ... in cultural terms." This avenue of ingress should 
lead us to "the essence" of musical humanism because "the objects of revival were 
ancient attitudes and thoughts about music" (p.xi). The author mentions those 
strands which in his view make up the cultural complex of renaissance music, and 
it can be shown that humanist activities are interwoven in the fabric. However, the 
warp in this case is the history of ideas, and very rarely does one find any wefts of 
the other cultural strands. It is left to the reader to weave the whole cloth. 

In Chapter Two, "The Rediscovery of Ancient Sources," Palisca offers a provoca- 
tive comparison of music to mathematics with respect to their status in educational 
curricula during the early stages of humanist activity. He repeats the traditional 
subdivision of the artes libérales whereby music is placed alongside of mathematics 
in the quadrivium, and after an informative survey of the growth of library holdings on 
music, goes on to review the writings of Boethius, Macrobius, Capella, Cassiodorus, 
Cleonides, Ptolemy, and Aristoxenus. Although this generalization may be accurate 
enough as far as university studies went, music was not totally divorced from subjects 
of the trivium — grammar, rhetoric and dialectic. (See for example Mathias Bielitz, 
Musik unci Grammatik: Studien zur mittelalterlichen Musiktheorie. Munich: 
Katzbichler, 1977.) If the humanistic revival of ancient sources was responsible for the 
quadrivial emphasis in antiquarian discourse on music, this phenomenon should be 
compared to humanism in other disciplines. 

Chapters Three to Seven concentrate on the contributions of such humanists as Pietro 
d'Abano, Giorgio Valla, (the latter accorded a penetrating assessment). Carlo Valgulio, 
Giovanni Francesco Burana, Nicolo Leoniceno, Giovanni Battista Augio, and Antonio 
Gogava, men whose work took the form mainly of translations of Ptolemy 's/Zarmon/^e 
by Leoniceno, Augio, and Gogava. It turns out that the least accurate of the three, 
Gogava's Latin version of 1562, was also the most influential. One wonders why 
Valgulio 's eloquent defense of Aristoxenus in terms of "the broader wisdom of mathe- 
matics, particularly geometry, in which continuity, infinite division, and irrationality 
were ubiquitous phenomena" (p.99) did not inspire any response since it was so readily 
available in the preface to his popular translation of pseudo-Plutarch's De musica. 

After an intriguing chapter on "Harmonies and Disharmonies of the Spheres," 
which ranges from the positive views of the Ferrarese prelate Ugolino da Orvieto 



94 / Renaissance and Reformation 

to the negative views of the mathematician Giovanni Benedetti, Palisca devotes one 
chapter to a painstaking examination of Franchino Gaffurio's humanist learning in 
the antiquarian treatise. De harmonia musicorum instrumentorum opus (Milan, 
1518). It is in this book that one can see both the good and bad results of Gaffurio's 
readings in the Greek sources available in Latin or Italian and the translations he 
commissioned himself. 

The last five chapters of the book settle into a series of thematic studies. Chapter 
Ten, "The Ancient Musica Speculativa and Renaissance Musical Science," is 
subdivided into individual writers: six music theorists (starting with Gaffurio and 
finishing with Vincenzo Galilei, the son of the astronomer), two mathematicians 
from either end of the time-span (Ramos de Pareja and Benedetti), one medical 
doctor (Girolamo Fracastoro), and one humanist scholar (Girolamo Mei). It is 
difficult to single out highlights in this masterful examination of a complex topic. 
However, Palisca's discussion of the shortcomings of Gaffurio's philosophical 
assumptions and his evaluation of the merits of Zarlino's conception of sonorous 
number stand as exemplars of cogent exegesis. 

Exceptional lucidity also marks Chapter Eleven on another very abstruse subject, 
"Greek Tonality and Western Modality." Except for a section subtitled "The Tonoi 
and the Waning of Melody," the chapter again concentrates on individuals: five 
music theorists (from Johannes Gallicus through to Galilei), one mathematician 
with tenuous connections to Italy (Erasmus of Horitz), and four humanist scholars 
(Giorgio Valla, Leoniceno, Mei, Giovanni Bardi, and Giovanni Battista Doni). 

The last three chapters present different aspects of the humanistic conception of 
music and language. By way of introduction. Chapter Twelve whets our appetite 
with its intriguing caption, "A Natural New Alliance of the Arts." Whereas the last 
two sections focus on the linguistic theories of individuals, in this case Mei and 
Pietro Bembo, the introductory paragraphs and the first section on grammar range 
more widely from well known figures such as Coluccio Salutati to relatively 
unknown ones such as Matteo Nardo. In particular, the discussion of concepts of 
modal ethos in terms of "humanism gone awry" (p. 346) is refreshingly candid even 
though one may question its placement under the rubric of grammar. 

Unlike the final chapter, "Theory of Dramatic Music," which is divided into three 
major sections, each devoted to one person (Francesco Patrizi, Girolamo Mei, and 
Jacopo Peri), Chapter Thirteen on "The Poetics of Music" is an amalgam of three 
topical and two personal sections. The latter concentrate on the mimetic theories of 
Galilei and Patrizi. The former deal with music as poetry, the poetics of imitation, 
and the expression of the affections. In the first, Palisca reviews the work of poets, 
literary critics, and one music theorist (Gioseffo Zarlino). In spite of the detailed 
examination of Bembo's "Cantai hor piango" as set to music by Bardi, this section 
seems more like a survey of the literature than an assessment of its meaning. Such 
is also the case for the short section on imitation. Here brief descriptions of Plato, 
Aristotle, and Horace are connected to the writings of three literary critics: Gian- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 95 

giorgio Trissino, Giovanni Pietro Capriano, and Agnolo Segni, with a nod towards 
Benedetto Varchi as well. This discussion lacks a context and is perhaps overly 
dependent on Bernard Weinberg as a secondary source. For instance, the author did 
not use the facsimile edition of Trissino 's La poetica (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 
1969) — not that this is crucial inasmuch as Trissino was not widely read in the 
sixteenth century. The final section on the affections consists of an examination of 
the theories of Lorenzo Giacomini. Surely this subject deserves more attention, even 
if it is agreed that the trivial side of the humanist revival of ancient attitudes and 
thoughts did not rival the quadrivial side. 

Given the complexity of Palisca's book, the overall accuracy of the text is 
remarkable. And yet the antics of word-processing gremlins can be spotted here and 
there. They erased the translation of the excerpt from Cornazano's La Sforziade (p. 
373), divided the references to Cardinal Niccolo Ridolfi into two persons in the 
index, and interfered with a few entries in the bibliography: for example, Barbaro's 
Italian edition of Vitruvius first appeared in 1566 and not 1567, the date of his Latin 
edition; the correct title of Bk. II of Cassiodorus's work is Istitutiones saecularium 
Utterarum; and the entries of Giambattista Giraldi Cintio's Discourses and Isidore 
oi Stv'xWt'?, Etymologies have disappeared. 

However, it makes little sense to rehearse minor cavils when one assesses a work 
of this magnitude. Palisca's book is a major achievement and a challenging standard 
for scholars working not only on Renaissance discourse on music, but also on 
writings from various cultures, for it demonstrates what sorts of things may be 
drawn from primary sources, how one draws them out, and the contexts in which 
one evaluates them as primary texts. Any research done in the future on individual 
writers, cultural contexts, or reception history must take into account this stellar 
contribution by Claude Palisca. 

MARL\ RIKA MANL\TES, University of Toronto 



Hilary Gatti. The Renaissance Drama of Knowledge. Giordano Bruno in England. 
London and New York: Routledge, 1989. Pp. xvi, 228. 

The problem of the relationship between the thought of Giordano Bruno and the 
plays of William Shakespeare has been a vexed one ever since German scholars 
raised it in the mid-nineteenth century. The concluding chapter of Hilary Gatti's 
new book proposes an answer, at least for Hamlet, a play which she believes is 
suffused both with the Nolan's vision of an infinite universe and his tragic awareness 
of the cost of questioning the accepted doctrine of a finite one. In leading up to this 
point Gatti considers not only Shakespeare's response to Bruno, but Bruno's 
impress on the small group of Englishmen — courtly, literary, and scientific — who 
seem to have read him closely. This group, she contends, included Marlowe, and as 



96 / Renaissance and Reformation 

a result she is able to bring together in a single argument the two greatest dramatists 
of their age — one a hard-working bourgeois, the other a radical intellectual — and 
to juxtapose with considerable insight the two plays in which Bruno's spirit has 
been most closely felt: Hamlet and Doctor Faustus. Her book thus reaches into 
several disciplines: history, cultural analysis, literary interpretation, and drama. 
Despite points where the demonstration wavers, the result is convincing, not least 
because she rigorously includes an appendix chronicling the controversy itself, 
making it possible for us to test her argument in its setting. 

"Setting is a non-committal word she uses frequently, aware of the subtle way 
often contradictory forces pull at each other when new ideas are coming to birth. 
We begin with a chapter on "the Brunian setting," by which she means the 
continental context within which Bruno's extraordinary intellectual egotism 
operated. Gatti is clearly in deep sympathy with her subject; she accepts his egotism 
calmly, not as a disadvantage which has to be overlooked but as the expectable 
bulwark of a proud mind philosophically embattled. Bruno bluntly insisted on the 
obvious rightness of his views, and fiercely attacked whoever did not concur, and 
there is no denying it or defending him. Gatti is skeptical enough where she needs 
to be, but her sympathy enables her to trace without excuse the inherent tragedy (in 
the full dramatic sense of that term) of Bruno's career. "What gives his work its 
particular power and impetus both within his own times and more generally within 
the modern world is the nature of his response," she writes. "For Bruno, placed in 
front of a newly entrenched and often obscure rigidity on the part of the traditional 
cultural institutions, both academic and religious, takes upon his own individual 
intellect the task of repudiating an old and worn-out world order and of opening up 
new vistas of knowledge and understanding." It is this situation which she sees 
dramatized in the dilemmas of Faustus and Hamlet, and which links the two plays 
together. 

Gatti traces Bruno's conflict with three important institutions: the Church, the 
universities, and the Courts of Princes. In every case he was fated, not only because 
of his own contentious personality, but because his insistence on the necessity of 
autonomous inquiry in philosophy affronted the interests of those he addressed. 
The problem around which Bruno's thought constantly revolved was not itself a 
new one: the relation between "the divine unity, inscrutable to man and ... the 
richness and abundance of universal variety which it is given to man to approach 
and comprehend through dedicated search and inquiry." Both Louis Le Roy (at a 
low level) and Francis Bacon (at one much higher) were to address it, and escape 
the stake. For Bruno, however, autonomy of inquiry became the fundamental 
condition for such speculation, and it was this conviction that he brought to London 
in 1583, a London ruled in his imagination by two images, that of the Queen and 
of Sir Philip Sidney. 

Gatti has less to say of the Sidney-Bruno link than one would wish, perhaps 
because a cool-headed survey of the evidence would make another chapter — or a 



Renaissance et Réforme / 97 

different book. It is his connections with the Northumberland circle she investigates, 
in two closely argued chapters in which his influence is tracked from one passage 
to another of Northumberland's own writings and papers, those of Thomas Harriot, 
and William Warner. Her exposition is too closely tied to this evidence to recapitu- 
late fairly here. It is both extremely suggestive and not in every case totally 
convincing; there are a few places where it might have been fairer to give up trying 
to extract connections from the limited body of evidence and instead rely confident- 
ly on the resources of interpretation. Nevertheless it emerges that a close textual 
knowledge of Bruno's writings indeed united the Northumberland circle, and that 
Marlowe shared in this knowledge. 

The case she builds not only illuminates the philosophical position and moral 
conflicts of Faustus, but the dramatic structure of the play Marlowe wrote about 
him. Gatti renounces the traditional moral interpretation of Faustus' final 
monologue, with its stress on his failure to repent. Rather, she argues, contact with 
the ideas of Bruno made it possible for Marlowe to depict his character making "an 
irrevocable intellectual choice: to embrace an alternative metaphysic which implied 
alternative concepts of knowledge but also of the soul and death." It is in the tensions 
between these conflicting images, these two concepts of knowledge and of death, 
that Marlowe writes Faustus' last speech. But "the attempt to escape from the 
metaphysic which dominates his culture has failed," and Faustus, recognizing this, 
"has no choice but to die in terms of the inevitable scenario." 

Gatti's treatment of Hamlet has equal interpretative insight, but here the 
attempt — plausible within the circle of the Wizard Earl — to create a documented 
connection between playwright and philosopher founders for the lack of docu- 
ments. Gatti relies primarily on an elaborate explication of the image of the 
antique Silenus-box, with its ugly exterior concealing images of divinity, to 
connect the play's fascination with inner and outer (being and seeming, plays 
within plays) and the Brunian mentality. The closest connection she can make 
between Shakespeare and Bruno is the long-ago noted one between Polonius 
and the pedant Polinno of Bruno's De la causa, principio et uno. Here the 
argument of what is otherwise a very stimulating book becomes thin-spun. It is 
not that Hamlet cannot be placed in her Brunian setting; it is that the job cannot 
be done by these means. It might have been better to accept that Shakespeare's 
magpie knowledge differed in kind from Marlowe's, and to consider how much 
Doctor Faustus itself may have done to transmit Brunian concerns to someone 
who was ever a quick study. 

This is nevertheless a thought-provoking book; though Gatti honourably points 
out how many of the things she says have earlier been said by others, the order she 
sets them in is fresh, and she adds much of her own. It is too bad that the price 
($79.95 Cdn.) of this modest-sized volume is a scandal. 

GERMAINE WARKENTIN, University of Toronto 



98 / Renaissance and Reformation 

David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber. Tuscans and Their Families: A Study 
of the Florentine Catasto of 1427. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 
1985. Pp.xxiv,404. 

When Les Toscans et leurs familles first appeared in 1978, it was immediately hailed 
as a major contribution to two previously disparate fields: historical demography and 
Renaissance studies. David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber had selected a 
marvelous source — the registers of the Florentine catasto of 1427, which recorded in 
minute detail the tax declarations of Florence and its subject territories — and applied 
to this source all the conceptual and mechanical tools of systematic statistical analysis. 
They described the political and fiscal setting in which the catasto was created, the 
values and limits of the data it contains, and the methods they used to examine that data. 
They considered the distribution of wealth, population movements, birth rates, mor- 
tality, age distribution, marital patterns, life stages, residential units, gender imbalances, 
and more. They laid out their results in 39 graphs, 85 tables, 69 maps, and over 600 
pages of lucidly written text. 

The publication of an English version, Tuscans and Their Families: A Study of the 
Florentine Catasto of 1427, in hardcover (1985) and in paperback (1989), spurs reflection 
on the lasting value of Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber 's work. The English version is less 
dauntingly monumental: the number of graphs, tables, and maps has been reduced, the 
appendices have been eliminated, and the text has been shortened by a third. It is also more 
precisely focussed on matters of historical demography, where the authors made their most 
original and most enduring contribution. For the English version they have sharply reduced 
their discussion of fiscal politics and the making of the catasto, the geographical distribu- 
tion of the population, the distribution of wealth between urban and rural areas and among 
different segments of the population, and literary images of infancy, childhood, maturity, 
and old age. In contrast, they have retained in their fullness the chapters devoted to men 
and women, young and old, marriage, births, death, and household structure — in short, 
the hard core of demographic data. 

Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber have demonstrated beyond any doubt the utility 
of the computer in collating and manipulating this data, gathered from scores of 
volumes registering the depositions of some 60,000 heads of households, regard- 
ing over 260,000 persons. They have devised ingenious ways of overcoming in 
part the synchronic nature of this mountain of data, which was compiled in a 
remarkably brief span of time, and extending their analysis over several genera- 
tions to demonstrate the perduring consequences of episodic outbreaks of 
plague. They have conscientiously described in quantitative terms poor as well 
as rich families, rural as well as urban; within those families they have paid as 
much heed to women, children, and the aged as to adult males. Because the 
thoroughness, thoughtfulness, and care with which Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber 
analyze the catasto matches that with which the catasto was created, the scope, detail. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 99 

and insight of Tuscans and Their Families is likely to remain without parallel as a 
study of premodern population. 

Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber 's contribution to the field of early modern history 
has been equally important. They have provided an inescapable quantitative 
framework for all future studies of fifteenth-century Florentine society. This is 
most obviously true for the flourishing sub-field of family studies: future 
examinations of the particular marriage strategies and household arrangements 
of specific families or lineages will inevitably consider them in the context of 
the global figures provided by Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber, just as studies of the 
social and demographic structure of other Quattrocento cities will take the 
Florentine pattern elucidated here as a secure reference point. But Herlihy and 
Klapisch-Zuber's data also provide a framework for Bernardino of Siena's 
sermons on marriage and household, Giovanni Dominici's treatise on family 
management and childrearing, and Boccaccio's stories of adultery. Provocative 
w hypotheses are advanced here (and will no doubt be tested elsewhere) about the 
connections between the advanced age at which Florentine men married and the 
incidence of violence, prostitution, and sodomy in Florence; between the strik- 
ing concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few leading families and 
humanist praise of munificence; between fiscal exemptions and the building of 
elegant and richly furnished palaces and villas. 

When Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber move from headcounts to culture, however, 
their achievement appears more equivocal, and not simply because it is hard to 
document clear causal connections between demographic data and cultural ethos, 
fiscal policies and artistic production, quantities of lives and quality of life. In fact, 
Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber generally do a persuasive job of suggesting linkages, 
and the passages in which they suggest them are among the most stimulating (if 
least conclusive) ones in the book. At issue is a broader and subtler problem: the 
intellectual confusion that has beset the concept of "the Renaissance" as a result 
of the rise of social history. 

Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber bear no direct responsibility for this confusion. 
For the most part, they carefully avoid using the term "the Renaissance," 
preferring instead neutral chronological designations such as "the fifteenth 
century." Their terminological care is laudable, for their informative discussion 
of demographic characteristics, social distinctions, and the distribution of 
wealth has nothing to do with any turning to classical antiquity for inspiration 
or exemplars. Was there a Renaissance fiscal household consciously crafted on 
the model of republican or imperial Rome? Was there a Renaissance family, a 
Renaissance dowry, or birthrate, or senescence? Clearly, when "the Renais- 
sance" is stretched this far, it loses all value as a heuristic category. And that is 
the disquieting legacy of Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber's magnificent achieve- 
ment. So long as less reflective historians casually equate the fifteenth century 
with the Renaissance and extend a designation suitable for cultural and intellec- 



100 / Renaissance and Reformation 

tuai developments to include all aspects of the period from Petrarch to Cas- 
tiglione — so long, in short, as Tuscans and Their Families is hailed as "a major 
contribution to Renaissance studies'" — "the Renaissance" will be merely a conven- 
tional label, employed out of intellectual inertia though devoid of any coherent 
sense. 

DANIEL BORNSTEIN, University of California, San Diego 




Renaissance 
and 



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et 



Réforme 



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CONTENTS / SOMMAIRE ^% «4^ 

ARTICLES I ' APR 20 ^gg 

101 '"^ 

The Politics of Conscience in Reformation Erî 
by Meg Lota Brown 

115 

De la nouvelle à l'essai, au seizième siècle 
par André Berthiaume 

123 

Cromwell's Message to the Regulars: The Biblical 

Trilogy of John Bale, 1537 

by Seymour Baker House 

139 

The Family of Love and the Church of England 

by Mark Konnert 

BOOK REVIEWS / COMPTES RENDUS 

173 

Ralph Berry. Shakespeare and Social Class 

reviewed by Lorelei Cederstrom 

178 

Johannes Cochlaeus. Responsio Ad Johannem Bugenhagium 

Pomeranum 

reviewed by P. Joseph Cahill 




179 

Etudes sur la Satyre Ménippée, réunies par F. Lestringant 

et D. Ménager 

compte rendu par Nadine Mandel 

181 

Nancy G. Siraisi. Avicenna in Renaissance Italy 

compte rendu par Joseph Shatzmiller 

184 

Christopher F. Black. Renaissance Confraternities in the 

Sixteenth Century 

reviewed by Konrad Eisenbichler 

185 

Francesco Guardiani. La meravigliosa retorica 

dell'Adone di G. B. Marino 

reviewed by Paul Collili 



The Politics of Conscience in 
Reformation England 



MEG LOTA BROWN 



J\ response to uncertainty about the compass of law and reason, casuistry 
was an important factor in Reformation debate about authority and interpre- 
tation. Also called case divinity or practical theology, casuistry is a system 
of defining, interpreting, and applying law and ethics according to the 
circumstances of a specific case. Practical theologians consult conscience, 
Scriptural principles, and reason, in order to determine the relation of general 
laws to particular experience. When public code unduly restricts private 
conduct, case divinity provides a system of equitable sanctions that protects 
the integrity of the individual.^ Case divinity constitutes a significant body 
of Renaissance literature, and its appeal in seventeenth-century England was 
considerable. From 1560 to 1660, over 600 collected cases of conscience 
were published in England and Europe. Douglas Patey observes that "every 
major divine of the period wrote or spoke on conscience," and he describes 
the controversy between Protestant and Catholic casuists as "one of the 
greatest paper wars of the age."^ Attention to practical theology was more 
widespread during the seventeenth century than at any time before or since. 
Casuistical epistemology influenced a great deal of post-Reformation 
thought; indeed, one intellectual historian claims. 

There was no aspect of action or belief which was not in one way or another 
affected by the crisis over probabilism. . . . Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, 
Pascal, and other founders of modem science and philosophy (not excluding 
Newton) cannot be fully understood except in the light of the controversies 
(philosophical, theological, juridical) among probabilists and anti-probabi- 
lists on the nature of knowledge, opinion, certitude, ignorance, hypothesis, 
etc.^ 

Clearly, a full examination of the influence of casuistry is inappropriate to 
the scope of this study, but the following pages will suggest some of the 



Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVI, 2(1 99 1) 101 



102 / Renaissance and Reformation 

reasons for the appeal of practical theology in seventeenth-century England, 
for the transformations of continental casuistry in Britain, as well as ways in 
which casuists responded to political and religious controversies of the period. 

The publication history of William Perkins' works provides a measure of 
Protestant casuistry's popularity in England. The first to systematize a Re- 
formed version of practical theology, Perkins (1558-1602) was the mainstay 
of English casuists. During the first half of the seventeenth century, as many 
as eleven editions of Perkins' collected works, both pirated and authorized, 
were printed. Further evidence of Perkins' reception can be deduced from the 
number of his works included in anthologies; one collection, A Garden of 
Spiritual Flowers, underwent nine printings from 1609-38.'^ According to a 
modem editor of Perkins' casuistical treatises, the author was better known 
to his time than Hooker. His works were translated into six languages, and 
"in an age when the literature of piety was exceedingly popular, he was 
probably read more widely than any other preacher of his day."^ Later writers 
of cases — William Ames, Richard Baxter, and Jeremy Taylor, for example — 
acknowledged their enormous debt to Perkins. But his influence was not 
limited to England; in inventories of colonial American libraries, "one of the 
commonest entries is the work of William Perkins. . . . [His] works are found 
listed in Virginia inventories almost as frequently as in books of New 
England."^ 

Perkins' popularity is partly attributable to the accessibility and practicality 
of his material. Stressing the application of Scripture to quotidian activities, 
he wrote about marital problems, godly speech, family duties, etc. His treatise 
on how to die well not only discusses preparing one's soul for death, but also 
offers more immediately practical advice about selecting a physician. Above 
all, Perkins translated into simpler terms the technical language and subtleties 
that characterized Catholic cases. His work, like that of his successors, made 
a system of addressing moral uncertainty available to all. 

Thus one reason for the appeal of Protestant casuistry in England was the 
wide audience at which it aimed. Unlike Catholic cases of conscience, which 
were written in Latin for the priest's use in confessional. Reformed casuistry 
was almost always in the vernacular, and was intended for every Christian. 
Just as Protestant clergy were not intercessors between the faithful and God, 
Protestant casuists did not interpose themselves between individuals and their 
consciences. Rather, endorsing Luther's declaration of "tiie priesthood of all 
believers," they insisted that the answers to dilemmas should be sought in 
Scripture before they are sought in institutions or other individuals. All 
Christians were encouraged to be their own casuists. Directly accountable to 



Renaissance et Réforme / 103 

God for their conduct, laymen were more engaged in their own moral 
direction than ever before. The audience of Protestant casuistry, then, was all 
believers, and the subject was all their actions. 

But if individuals were to determine their own cases of conscience, what 
function did the hundreds of pubUshed cases serve? And what was the role 
of moral theologians who preached unmediated consultation of Scripture? 
Protestant casuists perceived themselves as advisors rather than legislators. 
Cases served as paradigms of deliberation, procedural manuals that readers 
could consult while adjudicating their own decisions. Because the reader's 
circumstances often varied from those of published cases, moral theologians 
pointed out that their resolutions were only provisional. Protestant casuists 
wrote not as absolute judges, but as reasonable investigators into all sides of 
an ethical dilemma. Jeremy Taylor explains in Due tor Dubitantium: "Where 
I had not certainty in a case, or that the parts of a question were too violently 
contended for, with sufficient evidence on either side, I have not been very 
forward to give my final sentence, but my opinion and reason."^ 

Opinion and reason were the province of Reformed casuists. Their role 
consisted of quieting or aggravating conscience, of setting forth alternatives 
and consequences, of providing models for weighing moral responsibilities. 
The judgments of their Catholic counterparts, however, were less tentative. 
The Roman Church allowed its casuists complete jurisdiction over con- 
science. As early as the third century, the Didascalia proclaimed that priests 
"are in the place of God and have received power to bind and loose. This 
power applies to all sins."^ The priest's jurisdiction combined with mandatory 
confession to strengthen the authoritarianism of Catholic casuistry. Reform- 
ers objected to such control over conscience; Perkins, for example, criticizes 
the Roman assumption that casuists 

are made by Christ himselfe judges of the Cases of Conscience, having in 
their owne handes njudicarie power and authoritie, truely and properly to 
bind or loose, to remit or to retaine sinnes, to open or shut the kingdome of 
heaven. Whereas the Scripture uttereth a contrarie voyce, that Christ onely 
hath the keyes of David. . . . And the ministers of God are not called to be 
absolute Judges of the Conscience, but onely Messengers and Embassadours 
of reconciliation .^ 

While the resolutions of Catholic cases were authoritative, English casuists 
maintained that individuals' final decisions must be their own. Protestant 
"Embassadours of reconciliation" insured the popularity of casuistry by 
including the laity in the diplomacy of conscience. 



104 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Still another appeal of casuistry was its ability to address the political and 
religious perplexities that beset seventeenth-century England. In the battles 
among Catholics, Anglicans, Puritans, pope and monarch, foreign and do- 
mestic governments, each faction warned that obedience to the other could 
imperil one's soul — and in some cases, one's family, livelihood, and posses- 
sions. "Surplices became scruples and devotional practices doubts, so that not 
only in moral questions, but in allied matters of ecclesiastical authority and 
obedience, the necessity for clear expositions of conscience, its nature, its 
doubts and its perplexities was obvious." ^^ Casuistry met a concrete need for 
guidance of the conscience; it enabled individuals to measure their options 
and to govern their actions when confronted with conflicting authorities of 
the period. 

The Reformation engendered numerous cases of conscience. EngUsh Cath- 
olics during the Armada threat, for example, had to determine whether treason 
or disobedience of the Pope was a greater violation. On one hand, the Papal 
Bull "Regnans in Excelsis" had excommunicated Elizabeth, and had declared 
that those who defended her not only sinned, but were in jeopardy of 
excommunication themselves. On the other hand, allegiance to Rome meant 
supporting the invasion and overthrow of their country. The vast majority of 
English Catholics chose in favor of Elizabeth. Patrick McGrath suggests that 
their reasoning is represented in a casuistical tract which asks, "Whether 
catholics in England might take up arms to defend the queen and country 
against the Spaniards?" The author of the tract, a priest named Wright, argues 
that Philip's motive for attacking was political gain and not defense of the 
Faith. Since Christians owe political allegiance to the State and spiritual 
allegiance to the Church, and since Spain's chief objective was not religious, 
English CathoUcs were bound in conscience to resist a foreign aggressor. As 
if often true in practical theology, Wright gives decisive importance to the 
motive of an act, and he hmits his judgment to the specific case. "He did not 
repudiate the papal deposing power, but he argued that in this particular case 
Catholics were not bound to obey the Pope" (my emphasis). ^ ^ Always rooted 
in the occasion, casuistry enabled a concrete resolution without forcing 
English Catholics to betray their faith or to renounce the Pope. 

In a period when antagonistic factions required oaths of obedience, the 
extent of an individual's duty to civil and ecclesiastical authorities was a 
common subject of casuistry. Bishop Sanderson's "Case of the Engagement" 
tries to reconcile a Royalist's conscience with the 1649 oath of loyalty to 
Parliament, and John Donne's Pseudo-Martyr examines why English Cath- 
olics should take the Oath of Allegiance to their Anglican king.*^ Both cases 



Renaissance et Réforme / 105 

argue for avoiding confrontation with the ruling powers, while taking great 
care that the conscience remains inviolate. For some in seventeenth-century 
England, casuistry was a means of physical as well as spiritual preservation. 
But practical theology also provided less scrupulous means of self-preser- 
vation. From 1580, when the first Jesuits arrived in England, equivocation 
and mental reservation became associated with Roman casuistry. Both prac- 
tices were intended to deceive authorities, and both could be enlisted when 
swearing oaths. Under the aegis of mental reservation, one could swear to the 
truth of a statement while mentally denying it. The Jesuit Campion promised 
his captors that his name was Butler, and then silently added, "It is the name 
that I have assumed for the moment in order to avoid persecution."^^ Simi- 
larly, equivocation allowed one to deceive an interlocutor by withholding 
information or misrepresenting facts. Robert Sanderson gives several exam- 
ples of this practice in his De Juramenti Obligatione: 

It is as if a Jesuit apprehended, should swear that he were a Smith, meaning 
that his Name was Smith; or an Apprentice commanded to tell where his 
Master is, should swear he died a month ago, meaning that he then died 

Stockings This Jesuitical doctrine licenseth the Lust of Lying and Perjury 

unto all impious Men. ^^ 

While mental reservation and equivocation may have popularized casuistry 
for those who were able to insure their safety without betraying their alle- 
giance, most casuists condemned the two practices. Donne likens equivoca- 
tion to "a Tower of Babel . . . because therein no men can understand one 
another," and Juan Caramuel, a Catholic casuist, protests that "Mental reser- 
vations deprive human society of all security; they open the way to all lies 
and perjury; the wickedness of mendacity is not changed by calling it mental 
reservation, it is merely enveloping a poison with sugar and disguising vice 
as virtue."'^ 

Clearly, practical theology was vulnerable to abuse, and not all aspects of 
the doctrine met with approval. Indeed, by 1656, when Pascal wrote his 
Provincial Letters, casuistry had acquired the notoriety that still attends it.^^ 
But earlier in the century, case divinity was often a valued resource for the 
conscience torn between conflicting obligations. Protestant casuists, in par- 
ticular, responded to the crisis of authority and interpretation that accompa- 
nied the Reformation. Their emphasis on practicality and accessibility, their 
role as advisors to conscience and reason, and their attention to the ethical 
problems that arose from contemporary debate insured them a wide audience 
in seventeenth-century England. 



106 / Renaissance and Reformation 

One of the most publicized controversies between Catholic and Protestant 
casuists concerned the doctrine of probabilism. As noted earlier, the contro- 
versy exerted an enormous influence on post-Reformation philosophy. Prob- 
abilism states that if one has the support of authority, one may disregard a 
law, even though conceivably there are stronger arguments and more author- 
ities in favor of the law. In its simplest form, the doctrine grants: "We may 
use a probable opinion even though the contrary be more probable"; however. 



the more probable arguments which may be discounted are not the known 
but the unknown arguments for the law. Once you have a reasonable and 
weighty doubt, you need not become involved in the interminable discus- 
sions which would be necessary to weigh up the balance of probability on 
either side.' ^ 

Such, at least, was the original conception of the doctrine. But the practicality 
of probabilism quickly yielded to opportunism, and the theory became a 
notorious vehicle for moral sophistry. 

Bartholomew Medina of Salamanca, a Catholic casuist, formulated prob- 
abilism in 1577. His intention was to offer a solution for those who must 
decide a case of conscience without the time or resources to weigh all 
arguments for and against the decision. The doctrine was to aid the overly 
scrupulous who were unable to act because of fear that an unanticipated 
argument may prove the action sinful. To circumvent such paralysis, Medina 
asserts, "if an opinion is solidly probable, the bare possibility that it might in 
the end prove less probable than its opposite need not deter us from acting 
upon it."^^ The definition of a probable opinion was any view sanctioned by 
the Catholic Church — its popes, councils, traditions, theologians, casuists. 
The greater the number of authorities that endorsed the view, the more 
probable the view was.^^ Francisco Suarez, also a Spanish casuist, stipulates 
that a probable opinion "must not run counter to any truth universally accepted 
by the Church; it must be in agreement with common sense . . . and supported 
by good authority, and if it has not the support of the majority of authorities, 
it must at all events not be an opinion generally abandoned. "^^ From its 
inception, probabilism was an authoritarian doctrine. 

Despite limitations imposed on probabilism, the theory was vulnerable to 
exploitation. Gabriel Vazquez, a Jesuit casuist, attempted to forestall misap- 
plication of the doctrine when he declared that one may not invoke it at the 
expense of charity. And Medina warns: "For an opinion to be probable, it is 
not enough that specious reasons can be adduced on its side, nor that it should 



Renaissance et Réforme / 107 

have champions and defenders — any error might be adjudged probable at that 
rate. It must be asserted by wise men and confirmed by the best arguments."'^^ 
Nevertheless, probabihsm became a means of escaping moral law and ration- 
alizing misconduct. The most publicized abuses were those of Jesuits who 
taught that one may act upon any probable opinion, despite one's knowledge 
of more probable arguments to the contrary. Moreover, revising Medina's 
stipulations that several reputable authorities must support one's decision, 
Jesuits countenanced as probable the judgment of a single Church official, 
even if the respected majority disagreed. In allowing one to choose the least 
probable of a number of conflicting opinions, the doctrine enabled actions 
that received no support from conscience. Juan Azor's Institutionales morales 
(1600) states that one may act upon what an established authority has adduced 
to be lawful, even when one's own sense of rectitude is otherwise. In many 
cases, then, "we may follow a probable opinion against our best judgment. 
... No longer bound to follow his own judgment, one no longer acts in his 
own right; in electing to follow a probable opinion, he assumes a role or mask 
to which his self is largely irrelevant. "^^ 

The irrelevance of conscience to probable judgments was precisely what 
Reformers objected to. By the time Protestants developed their own system 
of casuistry, Jesuitical probabilism had eclipsed Medina's original formula- 
tion. Not only did probabilism enable one corrupt authority to legitimate error, 
but it relieved the laity from the responsibihty of adjudication. It enforced 
opinions in which the individual neither participated nor even necessarily 
believed. Reformers claimed that the self is disqualified from moral deliber- 
ation when external authority is the source of all decisions. Taylor summa- 
rizes the Protestant position on probabilism: "By this principle, you may 
embrace any opinion of their doctors safely . . . and you need not trouble 
yourself with any further inquiry . . . and Christ is not your rule — but the 
examples of them that live with you, or are in your eye and observation, that 
is your rule."^^ Probabilism constituted yet another skirmish in the battle 
between Reformed and Catholic casuists about proper criteria for judgment. 

The Protestant alternative to probabilism was probabiliorism. As its name 
suggests, the Reformed doctrine required that one choose the more probable 
solution to a case of conscience — that is, the solution that best corresponds 
to one's understanding of Scripture. Ductor Dubitantium declares, "the 
greater probabiUty destroys the less. "(p. Ill) The Protestant standards of 
reason, conscience, and Revelation determined whether one act was 
'probabilior' than another. Emphasizing inquiry and deliberation, Ames 
writes: "everyone ought to follow the opinion which (after due diligence to 



108 /Renaissance and Reformation 

search the truth) he judges to be more probable out of the nature of the thing 
and the law of God compared together,"^'* Reformed casuists further insisted 
that one's decision have the full persuasion of conscience. A convinced 
conscience need not believe that it has arrived at immutable truth, but it must 
be assured that of the options discernible to fallen reason, it has chosen the 
one that best conforms to Biblical principles. A convinced conscience intends 
virtue, even if it is in error. To the Catholic objection that inner persuasion is 
a subjective standard, Protestants replied that Scripture and conscience are 
God's instruments; together, they create a "divine spark" which it is sin to 
disregard. 

Despite their different priorities in assessing moral choices. Reformed and 
Catholic casuists agreed that probability is a sufficient basis for judgment. 
They recognized that absolute truth may not be within the province of fallen 
reason, but they maintained that grace and Revelation enabled one to achieve 
practical assurance. Casuistry offered a method of weighing authorities, of 
evaluating laws and circumstances so as to guide the uncertain in righteous- 
ness, if not to guarantee deliverance from all error. Taylor remarks in Ductor 
Dubitantium, "This heap of probable inducements is not of power as a 
mathematical and physical demonstration, which is in discourse as the sun is 
in heaven, but it makes a milky and a white path, visible enough to walk 
securely."(pp.36-7) The epistemological concessions of casuists, their con- 
structive response to doubt, their concern with enabling action, and their belief 
in the importance of reason to faith and virtue earned them a prominent 
position among practical philosophers of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century 
Europe. 

Perhaps the most important contribution of casuistry to post-Reformation 
thought was its response to the "rule of faith" controversy — a debate between 
Protestants and Catholics which challenged received notions of authority and 
raised far-reaching questions about criteria for judgment. Central to the 
development of Reformed casuistry, the rule of faith crisis posed an episte- 
mological problem: how can we justify the foundation of our knowledge? 
Both Protestants and Catholics agreed that Scripture is truth; their argument 
was how to determine whether one had correctly interpreted that truth. 
Catholics insisted that Scripture is obscure, and that reason alone is unable to 
fathom God's Word. Consequently, as Erasmus maintains in De Libera 
Arbitrio, man's fallen judgment needs the guidance of the Church, whose 
authority for interpretation derives from Scripture and tradition.^^ Protestants 
agreed that reason is fallible. Indeed, they argued that very fact to undermine 
the reliability of Popes and council, whose interpretation of Scripture was 



Renaissance et Réforme / 109 

mere opinion derived from corrupted reason. Reformers added that tradition, 
far from authoritative, consisted of more than a thousand years of controversy 
about even the most essential articles of faith. Truth, they argued, is perfect 
and unified; the Catholic tradition was neither. Concerning the Roman 
Church's claim that its interpretation of God's Word had Biblical authoriza- 
tion, Protestants pointed out that the controversy itself was about exegesis, 
and that therefore an objective criterion outside the debate was necessary. 
This criterion, they argued, was conscience, combined with faith. God places 
in us an undeniable conviction which authorizes the judgments of conscience. 

The Catholics countered on their antagonists' own grounds: since all 
individuals are corrupted, individual conscience and reason are unable to 
dispense absolute truth. Erasmus (and later counter-Reformers, Pierre Char- 
ron, Gentian Hervet, François Veron) contended that while Church authorities 
are subject to error, the consensus of all the orthodox faithful, the saints, 
scholars, martyrs. Church Fathers, bishops, popes, and councils outweighed 
the self-professed authority of Luther or any other individual. ^^ Catholics 
further objected that the standards of conscience and inner persuasion fostered 
religious anarchy; there were as many different interpretations of Scripture 
as there were Christians. Only the established Church could rightfully teach 
the ways to salvation.^^ 

While legitimate criteria for judgment continued to be a source of debate, 
the fallibility of canon law. Church officials, and tradition was not the primary 
objection of Reformed casuists to Catholic standards. Indeed, Protestants 
weighed all three factors in their deliberation of cases, just as Catholic casuists 
referred to Scripture and right reason in theirs. The chief contention between 
the two systems was how to apply their standards; at issue were emphasis and 
accountability. In Reformed casuistry, individuals were accountable for their 
own moral deliberation and for the reasons that fortified their decision. They, 
and not Church appointed authorities, were the final arbiters of their cases. 
Jeremy Taylor's Dissuasive From Popery reminds its audience, "We are 
commanded to 'ask in faith', which is seated in the understanding, and 
requires the concurrence of the will."^^ Faith, understanding, and will: none 
of these are exercised when theologians make our decisions for us. Those who 
govern conduct solely by the dictates of tradition. Church officials, or canon 
law do not necessarily comprehend the moral principles on which they act. 
Not only must ratiocinative effort precede action, but to commit an act without 
the persuasion of reason is to sin.^^ According to Protestants, Roman author- 
itarianism excluded the laity from the process of reasoning; those in doubt 
consigned judgment to their priest, and thus abjured their Christian duty to 



110/ Renaissance and Reformation 

participate in their own salvation. Reformed casuists objected that the Cath- 
olic policy left the faithful more dependent on human intercession than on 
God's Word in conscience. As William Ames remonstrates, conscience "is 
immediately subject to God, and his will, and therefore it cannot submit it 
selfe unto any creature without idolatry. "^^ 

The rule of faith controversy established the positions that Protestant and 
Catholic casuists would later take in adjudicating cases of conscience. At the 
outset of controversy, however, Protestant casuistry did not exist, and the 
debate evinced the Reformer's need to develop a system that governed actions 
according to the criteria they supported. In addition to charges of ethical 
relativism, Protestants faced the problem of guiding conscience without the 
sacrament of penance, the confessional, or the Catholic system of casuistry. ^^ 
The latter, with its dependence on Church authorities as the final arbiters of 
truth, was inimical to Reformed standards of evaluating judgment. Luther's 
burning Angelo de Clavasio's Summa concerning the Cases of Conscience 
dramatized the Reformed attitude toward existing practical theology. Thomas 
Merrill observes: 

What was needed, and needed desperately, was a system of morality to 
complement Reformation dogma. The formulation of such a system would 
have enormous influence in shaping the character of English social and 
political attitudes, for it would be in fact nothing less than the practical 
instrumentation of the revolutionary changes that had already been brought 
about in theory .^^ 

During the first half of the seventeenth century, Protestants responded to 
the need that Merrill describes by formulating a Reformed version of case 
divinity. Defining itself against the Cathohc system of applied morality. 
Reformed casuistry implements the ideology set forth in the rule of faith 
controversy. In the process, practical theologians provided a method of 
evaluating the political and philosophical conflicts that beset the period. As 
the most prominent figures of power — King, Pope, and later in the century. 
Parliament — jockeyed for greater jurisdiction, each called into question the 
very basis of the other's authority. Ironically, the more absolute their conflict- 
ing claims of authority became, the more they forced the individual to judge 
for himself the limits of their jurisdiction over his own experience. The 
perplexity of allegiance, combined with Protestant emphasis on self-reflec- 
tive determination of moral dilemmas, led seventeenth-century Reformers to 
assume increasing authority for their own actions — led them, in other words, 
to become their own casuists. While both James and the Pope claimed to be 



Renaissance et Réforme /111 

the highest authority on earth, Reformed casuists taught that no authority was 
greater than the individual's understanding of Scripture. During the early 
1600's, practical theology was the resource of moderates and conservative, 
but its elevation of conclusions drawn in conscience over institutionally 
mediated truths was potentially subversive. The role of casuistical principles 
in the breakdown of traditional institutions of authority later in the century is 
a promising subject for further study. 

University of Arizona 

Notes 

1 . Casuists presuppose the inability of reason and language to formulate precepts com- 
prehensive enough to solve all moral dilemmas. Consequently, they recognize that the 
literal application of law is not always just. In his description of equity, Aristotle 
outlines the foundation of case divinity; Aquinas, an authority for both Protestant and 
Catholic casuists, reproduces the following passages from Nichomac he an Ethics in his 
Summa Theologica: 

Every law is expressed in general terms, and there are some matters that cannot 
be dealt with in general terms. ... In such cases the law lays down what is right 
for the majority of cases, without losing sight on the consequent inaccuracy 
[in the remainder]. ... When, therefore, a law is laid down generally, but 
manifest ground for exception appears in a particular case, it is right that this 
failure of the legislator (due to his expressing himself in general terms) should 
be made good exactly as he would make it good if he were present, or would 
amend his law if he took the case into account. 

Nichomachean Ethics, 1137b in The Basics Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon 
(New York: Random House, 1941). See Aquinas, Summa Theologica, ed. Anton Pegis 
(New York: Random House, 1948), 1 1 . 2. 120. See also Joseph Hall, Resolutions and 
Decisions of Divers Practical Cases of Conscience, Vol. XII of Works ed. John 
Downame (Oxford: D. C. Talboys, 1937), p. 311. 

2. Douglas Lane Patey, Probability and Literary Form (Cambridge: Cambridge Univer- 
sity Press, 1984), p. 56. 

3. Benjamin Nelson, "Response to Edward Grant," Daedalus, 91 (1962), p. 614. Casuistry 
was not new to the Reformation. Nelson remarks that from 1215, when the Fourth 
Lateran Council required Catholics to attend confessional at least once a year, collec- 
tions of cases provided valuable instruction and precedents for priests. However, 
confession and penance were practiced well before the Lateran decree, and in 
confessors' manuals dating from the sixth century one can discover the prototype of 
Catholic casuistry. 

4. Louis B. Wright, "William Perkins: Elizabethan Apostle of 'Practical Divinity,'" 
Huntington Library Quarterly, 3, No. 2 (1940), p. 193. 

5. Wright, p. 196. 

6. Wright, pp. 194-5. 



112/ Renaissance and Reformation 

7. Jeremy Taylor, Ductor Dubitantium, Vol. 3 of The Whole Works, 3 vols. (London: 
Henry Bohn, 1844), p. 52. 

8. John T. McNeill, and Helena M. Gamer, eds. and trans.. Medieval Handbooks of 
Penance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1938), p. 16. 

9. William Perkins, The Whole Treatise of Cases of Conscience, ed. Thomas Merrill 
(Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1966), p. 83. 

10. H. R. McAdoo, The Structure of Caroline Moral Theology (London: Longmans, Green 
and Co., 1949), p. 65. 

11. Patrick McGrath, Papists and Puritans Under Elizabeth I (London: Blandford Press, 
1967), p. 277. 

12. For a fine discussion of Sanderson's case, see Camille Wells Slights, The Casuistical 
Tradition in Shakespeare, Donne, Herbert and Milton (Princeton: Princeton University 
Press, 1981), pp. 43-59. 

1 3. Quoted in Thomas Wood, English Casuistical Divinity During the Seventeenth Century 
(London: Billing and Sons, 1952), p. 49. 

14. Robert Sanderson, De Juramenti Obligatione in Works (Oxford: Oxford University 
Press, 1854), p. 202. 

15. John Donne, Pseudo-Martyr (London: W. Stansby, 1610), p. 48; and Wood, p. 108. 

16. Although Pascal's criticism of Jesuitical casuistry is partisan, there is sufficient 
evidence from the Catholics themselves that some Jesuits exploited case divinity. Popes 
Alexander VII and Innocent XI officially condemned a number of abuses, among them: 
"A son who has killed his father in a drunken brawl may rejoice at the fact without sin 
if he has come into a large inheritance thereby"; and "calumniators, witnesses and 
unjust judges may be murdered if there is no other way of avoiding their attacks." 
Quoted in Kenneth E. Kirk, Conscience and Its Problems: An Introduction to Casuistry 
(London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1927), p. 1 18. 

17. Kirk, Conscience and Its Problems, p. 391 and p. 393. 

18. Kirk, p. 392. 

19. In his Responsa Moralia (1609), the Catholic casuist Comitolus states that when 
reputable authorities "are found on both sides, the opinion which the greater number 
of them support must be chosen." Quoted in Kirk, p. 392. 

20. Quoted in Kenneth Kirk, Some Principles of moral Theology and Their Application, 
(London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1926), p. 196. 

21. Quoted in Kirk, Conscience and Its Problems, p. 392. Medina's restriction were often 
unheeded. Taylor's Dissuasive From Popery, Vol. 2 in Works pp. 797-8, lists a number 
of Catholic casuists who used probabilism to legitimate sin. Among them, 

Martinus de Magistris says. To believe simple fornication to be no deadly sin, 
is not heretical, because the testimonies of Scripture are not express. . . . Thus 
the most desperate things that ever were said by any ... are doctrines publicly 
allowed; they can also become rules of practice, and securities to the con- 
science of their disciples. 

Abuse of probabilism became so widespread that Popes Alexander VII, Innocent XI, 
and Alexander VIII imposed increasingly severe restrictions on the doctrine. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 1 1 3 

22. A.E. Malloch, "John Donne and the Casuists," Studies in English Literature, II, No. 1 
(1962), p. 67. 

23. Taylor, Dissuasive, p. 798. 

24. Ames, Conscience With the Power and Cases Thereof in Works (Ann Arbor: University 
Microfilms, 1962), Bk. 1, p. 86. Protestants did not discourage consulting wise author- 
ities about perplexed or doubtful actions. But they did insists that the final weighing 
and choosing was the individual's own. In Ductor Dubitantium (p. 148), Taylor finds 
greater moral value in the search for truth than in its discovery. Indeed, Taylor 
acknowledges that truth can elude fallen man; therefore, "it is not necessary that truth 
should be found, but it is highly necessary it should be searched for. It may be, it cannot 
be hit, but it must be aimed at." Even if one is in error, "diligence to inquire, and honesty 
in consenting" determine the virtue of one's judgment. 

25. Desiderius Erasmus, "The Freedom of the Will," in Erasmus/ Luther: Discourse on 
Free Will, trans, and ed. Ernst F. Winter (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1 96 1 ), pp. 1 2-20. 
For a more detailed discussion of the rule of faith debate and its epistemological 
ramifications, see Chapter One of Richard Popkin's History of Scepticism From 
Erasmus to Spinoza (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979). See also Chapter 
Two of Henry Van Leeuwen's The Problem of Certainty in English Thought 1630-1690 
(The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1963), and Chapter Three of Barbara Shapiro's Prob- 
ability and Certainty in Seventeenth-Century England (Princeton: University Press, 
1983). 

26. "The Freedom of the Will," pp. 10-20. 

27. Inner persuasion was indeed a knotty standard. Popkin describes the circular reasoning 
that supports it: "the criterion of religious knowledge is inner persuasion, the guarantee 
of the authenticity of inner persuasion is that it is caused by God, and this we are assured 
of by our inner persuasion" p. 10. The 1554 execution of Miguel Servetus dramatized 
Catholic claims about the subjectivity of the standard (see Popkin, pp. 8-14). Inner 
persuasion led Servetus to preach against the doctrine of the Trinity. The same criterion 
convinced Calvin that anti-Trinitarianism is heresy, so he had Servetus burned at the 
stake. Sebastien Castellio, a Swiss Protestant attacked Calvin in De Haereticis, arguing 
that since fallen reason dims the truth, one is unjustified in killing another for 
'misinterpretation.' Ages of debate, he asserted, prove that Scripture is obscure. In a 
diatribe against Castellio's "scepticism," Calvin and Beza responded that religious 
debate is not evidence of our inability to know truth; rather, it simply shows that some 
interpretations are wrong. While Reformed casuists supported inner persuasion, they 
objected to the dogmatism of Calvin's position. 

28. Jeremy Taylor, Dissuasive From Popery, p. 799. 

29. William Perkins, A Discourse of Conscience, ed. Thomas Merrill (Nieuwkoop: De 
Graaf, 1966), p. 41, asserts: "Whatsoever is not of faith, that is, whatsoever is not done 
out of setled perswasion in judgment and conscience out of God's word, howsoever 
men judge of it, is sinne. . . . Therefore unlesse the conscience well informed first of all 
approove the thing to be good and agreeable to Gods will, it can be nothing els but a 
sinne." 

30. William Ames, Conscience With the Power, Bk. 1, p. 6. 



114/ Renaissance and Reformation 

31. Slights, p. 4. In Ductor Dubitantium (p. 47), Taylor concedes that Reformed casuists 
borrowed principles of law and interpretation from Catholic cases of conscience, but 
he adds: "We cannot be well supplied out of the Roman storehouses; for though there 
the staple is, and very many excellent things exposed to view; yet we have found the 
merchants to be deceivers, and the wares too often falsified." The authority upon which 
Catholic casuists base their judgments is the source of their "falsified wares": 

the casuists of the Roman church take these things for resolution and answer 
to questions of conscience, which are spoken by an authority that is not 
sufficient; and they ... have not any sufficient means to ascertain themselves 
what is binding in very many cases argued in their canons, and decretal 
epistles, and bulls of Popes. ... Therefore either they must change their 
principle, and rely only upon Scriptures and right reason and universal testi- 
monies, or give no answer to the conscience in very many cases of the greatest 
concernment; for by all other measures their questions are indeterminable. But 
the authority of man they make to be their foundation: and yet ... the doctors, 
whose affirmative is the decision of the case, are so infinitely divided, (p. 48). 

32. Thomas Merrill, éd., Perkins' Discourse and Whole Treatise, p. xii. 



De la nouvelle à l'essai, au seizième siècle' 



ANDRE BERTHIAUME 



V^et article voudrait alimenter tant soit peu la réflexion sur l'évolution des 
formes littéraires au seizième siècle. 

Convenons d'abord qu'il est à la fois plus facile et plus difficile d'étudier 
un texte ancien qu'un texte contemporain. Nous avons le recul nécessaire, 
mais au prix d'une disjonction d'avec le contexte socio-culturel de l'époque. 
C'est sans doute en dépit de cette tension que nous proposons nos lectures . . . 
et que je risquerai ici une comparaison entre deux oeuvres marquantes de la 
Renaissance française: V Heptaméron de Marguerite de Navarre (1559) et les 
Essais de Montaigne (1580-1595). Je devine sans peine ce qu'il peut y avoir 
de périlleux à rapprocher deux oeuvres si différentes à maints égards, — mais 
le sont-elles à ce point puisqu'une vintaine d'années seulement séparent leur 
publication? J'ajouterai que des critiques ont déjà établi ce lien mais dans 
d'autres perspectives que la mienne. 



Les premières manifestations de la nouvelle française nous conduisent 
inévitablement à V Heptaméron} texte inachevé qui parut dix ans après la 
mort de Marguerite, avec un titre qui n'était pas d'elle mais de l'éditeur 
Claude Gruget, recueil où par ailleurs on ne semble pas faire de différence 
entre nouvelles, histoires et "comptes" (p.720). Comiques ou tragiques, les 
histoires — dont certaines préfigurent les Chroniques italiennes de Stendhal — 
développent les thèmes traditionnels de la "vertu d'amour qui se faict sentir 
quand elle n'est point faincte" (p.724) et des tribulations prétendument 
scandaleuses de l'état monastique.^ La structure du recueil retient l'attention, 
on le sait, autant que son contenu. Structure, disposition redevable au 
Décaméron, que Parlamente appelle "les cent Nouvelles de Bocace" (p. 709). 
Son encadrement est remarquable par ce prologue qui accumule les anecdotes 
dont, incidemment, la violence étonne le lecteur d'aujourd'hui: l'utiUsation 
outrancière des armes stupéfie davantage que les dégâts somme toute mineurs 
d'une inondation: c'est l'épée qui est à l'origine d'une véritable hécatombe. 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVI, 2 ( 1 99 1 ) 115 



116/ Renaissance and Reformation 

pas I'eau.^ Mais l'examen de la dialectique des armes et des lettres nous 
éloignerait de notre sujet. 

Revenons à un autre aspect de l'organisation interne qui caractérise 
VHeptaméron: les narrations d'histoires à pleurer ou à rire, dites et redites 
"véritables," sont suivies de commentaires, plus spécifiquement d'échanges 
entre dix "devisants" — ou "opinants" (p. 708), terme utilisé par Oisille. 
Dialogues souvent animés, vifs, voix souvent discordantes, contradictoires. 
Jean Rousset voit dans ces débats de "véritables protocoles de lecture, oij les 
acteurs se font glossateurs de leurs récits.'"* Ainsi, VHeptaméron nous convie 
à la rencontre de deux genres, sinon de deux styles.:^ d'une part, le récit court, 
émanation du fabliau, de Vexemplum médiéval et de la novella italienne;^ 
d'autre part, l'entretien, dont les antécédents sont immémoriaux, platoniciens, 
que l'on peut rapprocher du célèbre Cortegiano, plusieurs fois traduit en 
français à partir de 1537. 

On retiendra aussi dans VHeptaméron une certaine visibilité des "cou- 
tures," pour utiliser un terme cher à Montaigne, c' est-à-dires une certaine 
lisibilité des liaisons, de ces incessants passages du narratif au réflexif. En 
effet, les codes narratif et argumentatif, tout en commandant des écritures 
différentes, sont passablement étanches; les changements de narrateur sont 
d'ailleurs ostentatoires: après chaque récit sagement linéaire, on donne ex- 
plicitement sa voix à l'autre: 

"Pour n'en debatre plus, je vous prie, Parlamente, donnez vostre voix à 
quelcun. — Je la donne très volontiers, ce dist-elle, à Symontault; car après 
ces deux tristes nouvelles, il ne fauldra de nous en dire une qui ne nous fera 
poinct pleurer. — Je vous remercie, dist Simontault; en me donnant vostre 
voix, il ne s'en fault gueres que ne me nommez plaisant, qui est ung nom 
que je trouve fort fascheux ..." (p. 805) 

Le don de sa voix ou la réception de ce legs est un leitmotiv qui court tout 
le long du recueil. Donc importance des fonctions extra-narratives que Gérard 
Genette a appelées d'attestation ou de régie.^ En revanche, on a déjà noté que 
si les devisants sont bien présents dans leurs commentaires, ils sont plutôt 
discrets quand ils adoptent le statut de narrateurs,^ sans doute pour laisser plus 
de latitude, donner plus de relief aux interprétations qui suivent. 

Étanchéité relative des codes, fonctions énonciatrices bien délimitées, 
passage de l'objectivité à la subjectivité, on reconnaîtra que, dans une per- 
spective homologique, ces caractéristiques conviennent fort bien à un univers 
cloisonné, hiérarchisé, tant socialement que spirituellement, voué à 
l'édification, à l'élévation, tendu vers le haut, sinon le Très-Haut: la femme 



Renaissance et Réforme / 1 17 

du muletier qui va mourir pour sauver son honneur a "les oeilz eslevez au 
ciel" (p. 720). Une critique en arrive même à la conclusion que "l'action de 
VHeptaméron [n'est rien d'autre que] l'histoire de la conversion, par Oisille, 
des autres devisants."^ 

Ce qui frappe donc, c'est l'importance, quantitative autant que qualitative, 
du réflexif, du doxologique'^ dans l'économie du recueil et, par voie de 
conséquence, son caractère didactique: "Voylà, mes dames, proclame le 
timide Saffredent, une histoire que voluntiers je vous monstre icy pour 
exemple à fm que, quand vos mariz vous donnent des cornes de cheuvreux, 
vous leur en donnez de cerf." (p. 726)^^ Il y a en effet accumulation d'exempla 
mais, tout compte fait, absence de synthèse, ouverture puisque le 
"passetemps" (p. 707), leitmotiv du prologue, doit persister; un passe-temps 
utile, instructif, voire édifiant, sorte de succédané des lectures commentées 
de la Bible, "leçons" justement louangées dans le prologue (p. 707). •^ 



Dans la première oeuvre intitulée Essais P où un "je" s'exerce en marge 
de ses lectures, s'expérimente à loisir, le discours argumentatif, 
enthymématique selon Roland Barthes,^'^ occupe évidemment une place 
prépondérante, d'ailleurs annoncé par le titre. Mais il faut noter que le narratif 
n'est pas évacué, il s'en faut. Antoine Compagnon voit même "deux écritures 
dans les Essais, une écriture courte, pointue, elliptique, et une écriture longue, 
balancée et prolixe, pour les anecdotes, intimes et historiques."^^ Même style 
partagé que dans VHeptaméron. Soulignons l'importance de l'anecdote, du 
petit fait curieux, de l'historiette pour stimuler la pensée, la rendre plus 
concrète, relancer l'essai montaignien qui, en 1580, était remarquable par sa 
brièveté.^^ Montaigne dira dans un ajout de 1588 "qu'il n'est rien si contraire 
à [son] stile qu'une narration estendue" (I, 21, p. 105). Il existe d'ailleurs 
plusieurs études sur le Montaigne conteur. ^^ Hugo Friedrich voyait même en 
l'essayiste "un maître du récit anecdotique."^^ 

La thématique n'est évidemment pas la même chez la soeur de François 1" 
et chez le gentilhomme de Bordeaux, mais il y a des traits communs: les deux 
auteurs montrent leur intérêt pour les jeux aristocratiques de l'être et du 
paraître, pour les motivations psychologiques: les ressorts de la passion 
amoureuse sont scrutés chez Marguerite, ceux de l'ambition ou de la vanité 
chez Montaigne. Et l'on peut imaginer sans peine que l'auteure de 
VHeptaméron aurait apprécié et mis à profit maintes anecdotes rapportées 
dans les Essais. Tout en préservant leur attachement aux valeurs 
traditionnelles, religieuses et politiques, les deux écrivains accordent la plus 



118/ Renaissance and Reformation 

grande importance à "la pluralité d'opinions," expression utilisée par Oisille 
(p. 708). La notion d'expérience est mise de l'avant dès le départ dans 
VHeptaméron (Oisille est présentée comme une "dame vefve, de longue 
experience," p. 702); elle donne son titre au dernier essai de Montaigne. ... 
Curieusement les deux auteurs nobles se signalent par leur méfiance à l'égard 
de "la beaulté de la rhetoricque" (p. 709), d'où son corollaire: l'adoption d'un 
style bas, humble, "simple et naïf (I, 26, p. 171), proche de l'oral, de la 
conversation, de cet "art de conférer" célébré par Montaigne. 

Par ailleurs, l'essayiste, qui qualife VHeptaméron de "gentil livre pour son 
étoffe" (II, p. 108), c'est-à-dire de noble livre pour sa matière, pour son 
contenu, se préoccupe moins de l'authenticité de ses sources ^^ que la reine 
de Navarre: "dira chascun, décrète Parlamente, quelque histoire qu'il aura 
veue ou bien oy dire à quelque personne digne de foy." (p. 709) Encore que 
Marguerite, selon Nicole Cazauran, ne fit là qu'obéir à une convention.^^ 

Il importe donc surtout de noter la proximité, la cohabitation du narratif et 
du réflexif , du raconter et du persuader dans deux oeuvres importantes de la 
seconde moitié du seizième siècle, avec des tonalités et des perspectives 
propres à chacune. Le narratif et l'argumentatif sont ici dynamiquement liés, 
en interaction dans une prose discontinue. Henri Coulet décrit ainsi la 
dialectique propre à VHeptaméron: "... l'expérience, c'est-à-dire le récit, 
suscite le heurt des convictions; le heurt des convictions renvoie à une 
nouvelle expérience. "^^ On conviendra que cette description s'appUque aussi 
fort bien à la dynamique inhérente aux Essais. En somme, ceux-ci ne sont-ils 
pas déjà formellement présents, inscrits dans V Heptaméronl L'attitude 
désinvolte de Montaigne à l'égard de son lecteur dont "dès l'entrée" (p. 9) il 
prétend prendre congé ne doit pas nous donner le change, quant au caractère 
apparemment non didactique de son oeuvre. Cet avis liminaire est démenti 
tout le long des Essais par l'utilisation constante des pronoms vous et nous. 
Comme si l'argumentatif pouvait se passer d'un destinataire! 

Ainsi, de la nouvelle à l'essai, d'une forme parcellaire à une autre, on 
retrouve la même double composante fondamentale, la même dialectique de 
la narration et du commentaire, la même matrice rhétorique, avec un je 
apparemment singulier chez Montaigne, — en réalité tout aussi pluriel, poly- 
phonique que dans VHeptaméron, où, par ailleurs, les voix, "multiples et 
incertaines,"^^ importent plus que les personnages, toujours selon Nicole 
Cazauran.-^^ 

Il y a donc, me semble-t-il, continuité formelle entre VHeptaméron et les 
Essais, même si les contextes socio-culturels diffèrent dans une certaine 
mesure. Pour sa part, Montaigne met l'accent sur l'argumentatif, revendique 



Renaissance et Réforme / 1 19 

davantage "les discoursi" que "les exemples," préfère raconter "les choses 
passées que présentes" (1,21, p. 104); enfin, il prend plaisir à gommer les 
"coutures," ce qui amène Jean Terrasse, dans son excellent chapitre sur "Des 
coches," à conclure de la façon suivante: "Comme les transitions sont aussi 
importantes que les éléments qu'elles relient, le lecteur ne distingue plus les 
idées principales des idées secondaires, car il n'y a plus entre elles de 
hiérarchie. [...] Toutes les faces de l'objet sont étalées et mises sur le même 
plan."-^"^ C'est comme si, de VHeptaméron aux Essais, l'on passait d'une 
écriture verticale à une écriture horizontale. Tout compte fait, les lettres a,b,c 
des éditions modernes des Essais nous leurrent car, avec ses "alongeails" et 
ses citations éclairs, le discours montaignien abolit non seulement toute 
hiérarchie de plans mais aussi toute temporalité. 

Montaigne et Marguerite de Navarre sont à leur façon des compilateurs, 
des praticiens d'un discours qui se nourrit d'additions, de juxtapositions; des 
glossateurs qui se situent dans cette tradition humaniste du discours dis- 
continu, "très longtemps considéré, comme le note Jean Lafond, que comme 
l'échec du continu. "^^ Derrière la quête de l'anecdote qui nourrit l'oeuvre 
fragmentaire, une pensée se cherche, une écriture se trouve. On sait que la 
curiositas et le doute traversent toute la Renaissance, impliquant une remise 
en cause d"'une certaine idée de la totalisation du sens.^^ "Friedrich relie le 
fragmentarisme au scepticisme.^^ L'oeuvre narrative de Marguerite de 
Navarre reste — involontairement, il est vrai — inachevée: 72 nouvelles sur les 
100 prévues; par ailleurs, chez Montaigne comme chez d'autres auteurs de la 
Renaissance, l'inachèvement est une forme d'achèvement. Marcel Tetel situe 
volontiers l'auteure de VHeptaméron entre Rabelais — en particulier celui du 
Tiers Livre, dédié précisément à Marguerite — et Montaigne,^^ à cause de leur 
propension à l'ambiguïté. Mais ce n'est pas seulement une affaire de contenu. 
UHeptaméron, qualifié par Montaigne de "gentil livre" pour sa matière, est 
également intéressant pour sa manière: cette oeuvre ne contient-elle pas les 
principaux traits formels de l'essai montaignien? Elle n'est évidemment pas 
la seule à s'inscrire dans ce courant où le narratif va de pair avec 
l'argumentatif — que l'on pense seulement aux Dialogues non moins profit- 
ables que facétieux (1565) de Jacques Tahureau — mais il m'a paru important, 
ne serait-ce qu'à cause de ses implications pédagogiques, de revenir 
brièvement sur cette filiation particulière. 

Université Laval 



120 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Notes 

* Cet article a d'abord été lu dans le cadre de la rencontre annuelle de la Société canadienne 
d'études de la Renaissance, le 31 mai 1989, à l'Université Laval. 

1. Marguerite de Navarre, L'Heptaméron, dans Conteurs français du XVIe siècle, textes 
présentés et annotés par Pierre Jourda. Paris, Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 
1965. Mes références renvoient à cette édition. 

2. Voir Isida Cremona, "Les cordeliers et la notion de justice dans VHeptaméron de 
Marguerite de Navarre, dans La Nouvelle, Montréal, Plato Academic Press, 1983. p. 
218. 

3. Sur le thème de la violence, voir Nicole Cazauran, L'Heptaméron de Marguerite de 
Navarre, Paris, SEDES (Société d'Édition d'Enseignement Supérieur), 1976, p. 60, 
135. 

4. Jean Rousset, "La question du narrataire," dans Problèmes actuels de la lecture, Paris, 
Clancier-Guénaud, 1982, p. 32. 

5. Voir Raymond Lebègue, "Réalisme et apprêt dans la langue des personnages de 
VHeptaméron," dans La littérature narrative d'imagination, Paris, P.U.F., 1961, p. 
73-86; cité par Cazauran, op. cit., p. 95. 

6. Voir Pierre Jourda, Conteurs français du XVIe siècle, préface, op.cit. 

1. Gérard Genette, Figures lU, Paris, Seuil, 1972, p. 261ss. Exemples de régie par 
Parlamente: "Et quant iil [Amadour] fut arrivé à Sauce, commencea la guerre grande 
et cruelle entre les deux Roys, laquelle ne suis délibéré de racompter, ne aussy les 
beaulx faictz que feit Amadour, car mon compte seroit assez long pour employer toute 
une journée." (p. 765). 

8. Voir Deborah N. Losse, "Modes du récit dans la nouvelle française du seizième siècle," 
dans La Nouvelle, Montréal, Plato Academic Press, 1982, p. 208-215. 

9. Marie-Madeleine de la Garanderie, Le dialogue des romanciers, une nouvelle lecture 
de l'Heptaméron, Paris, Archives des Lettres modernes, Minard, 1977, n° 168, p. 75 

10. Terme utilisé par Philippe de Lajarte, qui désigne ainsi "tout discours exprimant une 
doxa, une opinion (vraie ou fausse)": voir "Modes du discours et formes d'altérité dans 
les 'Nouvelles' de Marguerite de Navarre," dans Littérature, n° 55, octobre 1984, p. 
71 

11. "La fonction d'exemple, certes, n'est pas la seule qui soit dévolue aux nouvelles de 
VHeptaméron. Celles-ci assument également, on l'a vu, une fonction esthético-affec- 
tive dont on aurait tort de minimiser l'importance. Mais c'est leur fonction exemplaire 
qui, seule, établit un lien entre elles et les dialogues; c'est elle par conséquent qui fait 
du recueil de Marguerite de Navarre une oeuvre structurée." Ibid. 

12. En fait, nous avons affaire à un discours paradoxal, à la fois ouvert et fermé, comme 
le montre bien Philippe de Lajarte, lequel, incidemment, conclut son article en 
établissant une relations entre VHeptaméron et les Essais de Montaigne. Ibid., p. 72-73. 

13. Montaigne, Oeuvres complètes, textes établis par A. Thibaudet et M. Rat, Paris, 
Gallimard, "Bibliothèque de la Pléiade," 1962. Mes références renvoient à cette édition. 

14. Roland Barthes, "Introduction à l'analyse structurale des récits," dans Communica- 
tions, n°S, Seuil, 1966, p. 4, n. 1 



Renaissance et Réforme / 121 

15. Antoine Compagnon, "La brièveté de Montaigne," dans Les Formes brèves de la prose 
et le discours discontinu (XVF-XVII^ siècles), p. 22. 

16. Voir Ibid., p. 10 

17. Voir Maynor Hardee, "Sur l'art narratif dans les anecdotes de Montaigne, dans le 
Bulletin de la Société des Amis de Montaigne, n° 7-8, juillet-décembre 1981 . 

18. Hugo Friedrich, Montaigne, traduit de l'allemand par R. Rovini, Paris, Gallimard, 
"Bibliothèque des idées," 1968, p. 181. Voir aussi p. 168. 

19. "Caries histoires que j'emprunte, je les renvoyé sur la conscience de ceux de qui je les 
prens [...] Aussi en l'estude que je traitte de noz moeurs et mouvemens, les tesmoi- 
gnages fabuleux, pourveu qu'ils soient possibles, y servent comme les vrais." I, 21, p. 
104. 

20. Voir Cazauran, op. cit., p. 33, n. 32. 

21. Henri Coulet, Le roman jusqu' à la Révolution, Paris, Armand Colin, 1967. p. 128. 

22. Expression utilisée par Simone de Reyff dans son introduction à VHeptaméron. Paris, 
Flammarion, collection Gamier-Flammarion, 1982, p. 23 

23. Voir Cazauran, op. cit., p. 82 et 95. 

24. Rhétorique de l'essai littéraire, Montréal, Presses de l'Université du Québec, 1977, p. 
22. 

25. Jean Lafond, "Des formes brèves de la littérature morale aux XVP et XVIP siècles," 
dans Les Formes brèves de la prose et le discours discontinu (XVI^-XVIF siècles), 
Paris, Librairie philosophique J. Vrin, "De Pétrarque à Descartes," 1984, p. 116. 

26. Jean Lafond, "Avant-propos," op. cit., p. 7 

27. Friedrich, op. cit., p. 30. 

28. Marcel Tetel, op. cit., p. 3 et 106. Voir aussi From Marot to Montaigne, Lexington, 
French Forum, 1972, p. 125-135. 



Cromweirs Message to the Regulars: 
The Biblical Trilogy of John Bale, 1537' 



SEYMOUR BAKER HOUSE 



A. 



I 



.s mother and midwife of the EngUsh Reformation, Thomas Cromwell 
displayed remarkable ingenuity in his use of propaganda between 1535 and 
1540. Anticipating the saturation techniques of modem politicians, he initi- 
ated a country-wide campaign of preaching and publishing to sway public 
opinion toward support for the government's emerging policies of reform. 
In addition to press and pulpit, Cromwell used a company of actors to bring 
his message of reform to distant parishes throughout the English countryside. 
This paper will examine one particularly illuminating performance before 
the Cluniac monks at Thetford in 1537 and argue that in this case, 
Cromwell's troupe tempered their polemic in response to the recent uprisings 
in defence of the English monasteries.^ 

From 1537 until his execution in 1540, Cromwell supported a troupe of 
players headed by the notorious "biUous" John Bale, ex-Carmelite and later 
Anglican bishop of Ossory. This group toured for three years, enacting Bale's 
protestant drama in town halls, cloisters, and houses throughout England until 
their patron's own brief candle was snuffed and Bale was forced to flee the 
realm. Indeed, Cromwell was not alone in employing travelling players during 
this time: by the late 1530s there were over a dozen such troupes and it is 
certain that the plays they staged were, in some measure, as reflective of their 
patron's relation to the quickly changing scenes as Bale's were of his. The 
association of Cromwell and Bale permits us to investigate the parmership of 
patron/playwright at a crucial juncture in the history of the English Reforma- 
tion. In them we can see how a patron of the 'new learning' used a like-minded 
dramatist to further public policy.^ 

Despite the relative abundance of his polemical prose, only five of Bale's 
plays have come down to us from among the nearly two dozen he wrote 
between ca. 1533 and 1538. All of his dramatic works were largely scriptural 
and rooted in the vigorously expressed reformed theology for which he was 



Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVI, 2 (1991) 123 



124 / Renaissance and Reformation 

famous. In Cromwell's hands, each became potential weapons in a program 
of religious reform which was promulgated under the guise of a return to the 
purity of the early Church, free from its medieval accretions — accretions 
which included not only various sacramental and traditional matters, but also 
the dramatic aspects of medieval Christianity such as pageants, cycle plays, 
and processions. 

Yet parish drama had become part of the very fabric of English life, and 
could not be eradicated overnight. Early writers of Protestant plays may even 
have benefited from the ready acceptance and universal familiarity of the 
mystery and miracle plays which guaranteed them an audience for the 
dissemination of their Protestant doctrine. Bale's Ufe of John the Baptist in 
14 episodes was clearly an attempt to combat the medieval mystery plays 
using the very form which would survive, protected by towns or church and 
craft guilds, in parts of England well into Elizabeth's reign.^ Despite the 
similarity in presentation, differences in theology could not be tolerated and 
it was not long until legislation began to curtail Protestant interludes. 

Because their plays were drawn largely from the Bible, reformers like Bale 
could present their objections to Catholic praxis while emphasizing their 
belief that scriptural fideUty — increasingly a literal fidelity — was the only 
sure guide to theological verity. There is a further and scarcely less significant 
aspect of this deepening literalism: it supported the conflation of the Divine 
with the human and permitted a typological view of history in which Henry 
VIII becomes another King David, in which all human actions are seen in a 
Biblical context."^ Cromwell was not slow to recognise that such a view was 
ideally suited for polemical purposes. 

Bale's work with Cromwell, which coincides with the appearance of a 
troupe of players under the Lord Privy Seal's protection, began in earnest in 
January 1537 when, after plucking him from prison in Greenwich, Cromwell 
set him to work producing plays for the reformation.^ Tudor drama has long 
been known for its political nature, yet most pieces written during this period 
have resisted precise dating and, by extension, a convincing assignation of 
auspices. Bale's are an exception, although to date, known performances of 
the propaganda plays he produced are few. Cromwell's men (led by Bale) 
appear for the first time on 8 September 1537 at Kings' College, Cambridge. 
Also in 1537/8 they appeared at Shrewsbury, Leicester, Thetford, New 
College (Oxford) and Cambridge town hall. In addition to the royal perfor- 
mance in September 1538, Bale was paid by Cromwell for putting on a play 
before Cranmer in Canterbury during the Christmas season 1538/39. This was 
most likely a staging of King Johan and proved more provocative than the 



Renaissance et Réforme / 125 

previous performance. They also appeared at Barnstaple in 1538/9, again 
(perhaps) at Thetford between June 1539 and its suppression in January 1540, 
and before 29 June 1540 in York, Maldon, and again at Cambridge.^ The only 
known performance of his trilogy. The chefe promyses of god, Johan 
Baptystes preachy nge, and The temptacyon of our lorde, led by Bishop Bale 
himself in conservative Kilkenny in 1553 to counter the processions acclaim- 
ing Mary Tudor as queen, resulted in his immediate exile. Other than on these 
noteworthy occasions, no other venues for his dramatic works are known. 
There was a practice for a performance of his Thre Lawes around Christmas 
1550/1 near Bale's Hampshire cure of Bishopstoke, but it is uncertain whether 
a performance ever resulted.^ 

It is clear that Bale's plays were tailored for different occasions, and that 
his repertoire included many pieces written in response to single issues. Many 
betray this essentially partisan nature and the specific application for which 
they were intended through their titles alone: On the king's two marriages, 
for example, may date from spring, 1534 when preachers were ordered to 
uphold the king's marriage and certainly could not have been played after 
May 1536 when proceedings against Anne Boleyn had begun, while On the 
treasons ofBecket suggests the performance on 8 September 1538 when Bale 
actually performed before the king and court in Canterbury the night after 
England's most famous shrine had been dismantled there.^ 

There is, however, ample evidence, both internal and otherwise, to suggest 
that it was his relatively mild trilogy that Bale played when touring those areas 
of the country most hostile to the 'new learning' as well as to monastic 
audiences. In particular, it seems to have been staged during the 1537 winter 
dramas at the Cluniac priory in Thetford, Norfolk and presented in the 
conservative northern cities of Leicester and Shrewsbury that same year in a 
deliberate effort to preempt opposition to the anticipated suppression of the 
greater religious houses and to induce the lay and regular members of the 
audience to acquiesce in the king's ecclesiastical reforms. While the perfor- 
mance at Leicester town hall is datable only to between Michaelmas 1537 and 
Michaelmas 1538, at Shrewsbury we have two likely dates to choose from. 
Bishop Hilsey, ever active in the suppression of the monasteries, preached 
there for all of Rogation week 1537, and Dr. Legh, also a tireless campaigner 
for Cromwell, visited the town's regulars around late August 1537 and was 
feasted in the town hall. Either of these times would have been suitable for 
the production, before the mayor, aldermen and regulars, of Bale's Biblical 
trilogy.^ 



126 / Renaissance and Reformation 

That Cromwell was facing stiff opposition in his planned reforms needs 
scant mention. By March 1536, the religious houses in England worth under 
200 pounds per annum were dissolved by act of parliament and some 
surrenders of larger houses had occurred by the end of the year. The Pilgrim- 
age of Grace, involving as it did over 30,000 men — by far the gravest threat 
to Henry's reign — had specifically taken up the suppression as one of its main 
points and despite its defeat by December 1536, new risings had followed in 
the spring of 1537, notably in Somerset, Cornwall, and East Anglia itself. 
Bale's own parish of Thomdon was particularly sympathetic to the northern 
men and brought charges against Bale (which led to his arrest) when he 
chastised them for it.^^ Rumors of still further risings were rife. After Easter, 
1537, it was bruited that Walsingham was up and in Suffolk on May Day an 
overtly political game was staged in which the duke of Suffolk, one of the 
main agents of the king's victory over the rebels, was criticized. Cromwell 
too had become the target of malicious songs and ditties and his resignation 
had been foremost among the demands of the northern rebels in 1536.^ ^ More 
threateningly, between March and October 1537, risings and rumors of risings 
had been linked to the threat of further monastic suppressions in both 
Shrewsbury and Leicester.'^ Although by mid- 1537 the wholesale suppres- 
sion of all remaining houses had not yet been ordered, the monastic visitors 
were making their rounds, visiting both Shrewsbury and Thetford in their turn 
and the larger monasteries whose heads had been involved in the recent 
uprisings were dissolved through the attainder of their leaders.'^ By late 
autumn, Thetford must have known that its future was in jeopardy — two other 
Cluniac priories had recently been suppressed, including the premier house 
at Lewes which surrendered voluntarily to the king in November 1537.^^^ 

Into this climate of dangerous dissatisfaction and rebeUion, Cromwell sent 
his players hoping to counter opposition to his ecclesiastical policies. Yet 
plays like Bale's King Johan and Thre Lawes with their vituperous blas- 
phemy, caustic anti-monasticism, and shocking liturgical parody, were inap- 
propriate and could easily be counter-productive.^^ What was needed was an 
appeal to the genuine reUgious impulse, evident among regulars and laymen 
alike, that lay behind resistence to these suppressions. And Bale's appeal to 
Scripture could easily be buttressed by gentle reminders that resistence was 
treason and would be severely punished, as the recent mass executions of 
rebels had shown. Although Cromwell could ill-afford a calamitous recep- 
tion, let alone risk another disastrous year of armed uprising, at the same time 
he could not back down from his commitment to the evangelical reform to 
which he had already set his hand. For these reasons, the players he sent to 



Renaissance et Réforme / 127 

Thetford and other monasteries or into the troubled areas of the North had to 
breathe the sweet odor of sincerity into the atmosphere of suspicion with 
which regulars and conservatives would doubtless receive his messengers. 

Thetford was an obvious target for Cromwell's dramatic propaganda. 
Founded by the Bigod family in the early twelfth century and continuing 
under the patronage of the earls and later the duke of Norfolk this Cluniac 
priory was one of the wealthier houses in England, valued at over 400 pounds 
at the time of its suppression in 1540,'^ It was a popular venue for drama, 
welcoming touring companies under the patronage of various nobles almost 
yearly from 1497 up to its suppression. There is also evidence suggesting that 
members of the monastery assisted these players by acting in their plays or 
aiding in their production. For example, in 1529/30 the players of the duke of 
Norfolk performed "cum auxilio conventus" as did the king's players in 
1532/33. Generally no more than two patronized troupes of actors appear in 
any one year, but in 1537/38 payment was made to four travelling troupes 
appearing under royal or noble patronage, among them those of the king and 
Cromwell. ^^ Evidence from Bale's trilogy gives ample support for the view 
it was these three plays which Cromwell's men staged during their visit to 
Thetford in 1537/38, and that the monks themselves participated or were 
expected to participate in the performance. Furthermore, the trilogy's rela- 
tively soft appeal, coupled with the absence of contemporary iconoclastic 
references with which Bale's other known plays were updated as the refor- 
mation progressed, suggests that it was an ideal entertainment for northern 
audiences like those in Shrewsbury Abbey and Leicester who lacked the 
stomach for the more strident Protestantism of either King Johan or Thre 
Lowes }^ 

Turning to the trilogy itself, we find three works of unequal length. The 
chefe promyses of god occupies nearly 1000 lines while each of the other two 
plays is less than half as long. Together they could have been performed in 
under two hours. They all derive from Scripture and adhere closely to their 
biblical sources.'^ 

In the opening prologue of the first play. The chefe promyses of god, Baleus 
Prolocutor invites his audience to see God's hand in contemporary events: 

If profyght maye growe, most Christen audyence, 

By knowlege of thynges whych are but transytorye 

And here for a tyme, of moch more congruence 

Advauntage myght sprynge by the serche of causes heavenlye, 

As those matters are that the Gospel! specyfye ... (II. 1-5) 



128 / Renaissance and Reformation 

God's guiding action, revealed in Scripture, provides the mainspring for 
historical truth. From Adam's first disobedience through Isaiah's promises, 
God's relationship with man is seen in the history of sin, its punishment, and 
the opportunity for redemption. The chefe promyses of god summarizes this 
history from the expulsion from Eden to the coming of John the Baptist with 
continual foreshadowing of contemporary events. Bale relies heavily on his 
scriptural sources in this tour through the Old Testament and concludes with 
his own promise that "more of thys matter conclude herafter we shall" (1, 982) 
which leads into the second play of the series. Each of the six acts contains 
an example of man's turning away from God, his punishment, and a further 
instance of Divine mercy. And each closes with a sung Latin antiphon taken 
from vespers in the Advent liturgy — one of the Great O's, "prosequetur 
chorus cum organis."^^ The invitation Bale extends to his audience and the 
expectation that it was able and willing to sing these Advent antiphons in 
Latin to the accompaniment of an organ strongly suggests that a monastic 
setting during the Christmas season was part of his original staging. 

The play is rich in allusions stemming from Bale's intention to provide a 
Biblical context for current events as he stated in the preface. One specific 
allusion can, however, provide evidence helpful in dating The chefe promyses 
of god to sometime after July 1536. Further internal evidence in the other two 
plays ties them to sometime following the general insurrection in the North 
and Bale's imprisonment, hi act 5 Bale draws on the typographical association 
of Henry VIII with Israel's King David found frequently in the works of 
English reformers and royal pageant makers alike.^^ He highlights two 
features of David's reign which point directly to events between July 1536 
and Bale's own imprisonment a few months later. Supported by his develop- 
ing view that biblical events were prophetic as well as historical. Bale welds 
a link between Henry VIII and David which not only furthers his typological 
view of history but prepares his audience for the later identification of Tudor 
clergy with the Pharysees, and Satan as a regular.^^ David is rebuked by God 
for his sexual sins with Bathsheba: "Of late days thu has mysused Bersabe . . . 
(I. 606), and this sin has "defyelde" the otherwise godly king. (I. 608) The 
punishment is death, not for David, but for his illegitimate son: 

Thu shalt not dye, David, for thys inyquyte 

For thy repentaunce: but thy sonne by Bersabe 

Shall dye for as moch as my name is blasphemed 

Among my enemyes and thu the worse estemed. (11.617-20) 



Renaissance et Réforme / 129 

David's other sin merits still further punishment: a "pestylence most vyle" (I. 
632). 

On 22 July 1536, Henry VIII's sole (and illegitimate) son Henry Fitzroy 
died, a fact the monks of Thetford would well remember as the young duke 
had been buried in their church.^^ Bom from the king's widely known liaison 
with Elizabeth Blount and created duke of Richmond in the absence of a 
legitimate male heir, Henry Fitzroy was a flagrant example of royal immoral- 
ity, and neither Bale nor many other reformers could tolerate such flouting of 
God's edicts. Shortly after the duke's death, a virulent plague broke out in 
London, Oxford and elsewhere so that Lady Lisle 's servant wrote "they die 
daily in the streets" and Oxford scholars fled to the countryside.'^'* 

The chef e promises' s final scene with John the Baptist and its closing line 
of, "more of thys matter conclude herafter we shall" (L 982) lead directly to 
the second play of the trilogy, Johan Baptystes preachynge. Having estab- 
lished the 'causes heavenlye' of man's present condition and the ongoing, 
even contemporary action of God in history. Bale turns to his major theme — 
the resumption of true religion among the people of God. Using historical 
stereotypes, Bale casts the Baptist as a priest/preacher who anachronistically 
receives the confession of three representative laymen and absolves each as 
they turn to embrace his new message. His opponents are Sadducaeus and 
Pharisaeus, who proudly resist the Christian invitation to repent humbly and 
receive the message of salvation by faith in Christ. In the prologue. Bale had 
emphasized the meekness and humility of true Christians (and indeed of 
Christ himself): 

Ye shall se Christ here submyt hymselfe to Baptym 
Of Johan hys servaunt, in most meke humble wyse, 
In poomesse of sprete that we shuld folowe hym (II 29-31) 

in opposition to the "frowarde sectes [who] contynuallye rebell." (L 28) 
Rebellion and pride, humility and godliness form the paired foci around which 
the play's message revolves. 

As the play begins, John the Baptist enters preaching to Turba Vulgaris, 
Publicanus, and Miles Armatus. He urges them to 'flee mennys tradycyons' 
and instead 'Gods hygh lawes fulfill.' (L 67) This is set out clearly in the play 
when John warns Pharisaeus and Sadducaeus of the coming punishment due 
those who wilfully turn away from God's word: 



I 



130 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Neyther your good workes, nor merytes of your fathers, 
Your fastynges, longe prayers with other holy behavers 
Shall yow afore God be able to justyfye ... (11. 265-67) 

In an explanation of the charges against him written around the same time as 
this play. Bale explains that despite the lack of divine commandment for them, 
such traditions can be 'lawdable' — yet the office of preaching, for which there 
exists an irrefutable injunction, was neglected in favor of these 'con- 
stytucyons of menne.' He develops this further by saying that he never 
despised 'ceremonye of ye churche' but spoke against those curates who 
permit such things to be 'superstycyoslye takyn in ye peple for want of good 
techyng.'^^ Bale sets up the opposition, conventional in Protestant polemics 
between Catholic traditions devised by men and the obligations imposed by 
God. He will later speak more plainly, and include among those traditions the 
various monastic rules against which Cromwell was then proceeding. 

When it comes time for Miles Armatus to submit to John for his baptism. 
Bale departs his biblical source in a scene depicting an idealized version of 
confession (which significantly partakes of none of the parody Bale levels at 
auricular confession in King Johan)?^ 

John warns the knight 

The offyce ye have for the publyque unyte 

Mynde to exercyse to the landes tranquyltye. 

Ye maye thus please God in doyng your feate ryght well. (H. 179-181, my 

italics), and further. 

For the publique peace Gods lawe doth yow permyt 

Stronge weapon to weare, but in no case to abuse it. (U. 183-83) 

By invoking the fealty due to God in serving the 'landes tranquyllyte' Bale 
has John condemn those knights who, having taken up arms against their king 
in the recent conservative risings, siimed against God as well as their rightful 
lord. 

But Bale reserves his strongest criticism for the clergy, seen in the Phar- 
isaeus and Sadducaeus. They are referred to throughout as crafty dissemblers, 
wealthy and proud (which vices figure prominently in the Gospel) who 
conspire against John and his 'newe lemynge'. John warns them that their 
opposition to the Gospel involves them in the most dangerous sort of sin for 
it cannot be forgiven as the product of ignorance. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 131 

I saye thys to unto yow, your observacyons are camall. 
Outward workes ye have but in sprete nothynge at all ... 

Synners offendynge of weakenesse, doubt or ignoraunce, 

Of pytie God pardoneth; but were he fyndeth resystence 

Agaynst the playne truthe, there wyll he ponnysh most . . . (II. 237-8, 241-43) 

Mirroring the machinations that had lately led to Bale's imprisonment for 
preaching the Protestant line, Sadducaeus promises that 'wyth a lytle helpe 
of an heretyke [John] wyll smell.' (I. 298) The audience is thus invited to 
identify the 'newe lemynge'^^ preached by persecuted reformers with the 
'news' of the persecuted Baptist. Here Bale issues his broadest political 
challenge: those who wilfully resist the Gospel message preached by John are 
the forefathers of those who persecute his descendents. 

The link between heresy and sedition is overturned in this analogy. Those 
who suppress what they call heresy are merely feigning concern for the 
realm's security. In a heavily ironic speech, Sadducaeus warns that 

If we do not se for thys gere a dyreccyon. 

This fellawe is lyke to make an insurreccyon; 

For to hys [i.e. John's] newe lemynge an infynyte cumpanye 

Of worldlye rascalles come hyther suspycyouslye. (II. 314-17) 

All knew, of course, that it was not the preachers of the new learning but the 
champions of tradition who had threatened the reahn's security in the recent 
insurrections: treason was, in fact, more dangerous than the Protestant message.^^ 
The opposition of the haughty, scheming Pharisee, who resists John's call 
to the office of preaching which constitutes the essence of the priestly call, 
and lowly Jesus submitting himself to God's law lies at the heart of the 
message to regulars. Bale's Christ teaches humble obedience: 

Ye worldlye people, leme gentylnesse of me (I. 366) 

Le te thys example be grafted first in your wytt. 

How I for baptyme to Johan my selfe submytt. (II. 371-2) 

and finally, 

[I come] From my mothers house . . . 

To obey and serve with most due reverence (II. 379-80) 



132 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Christ refers to himself as the 'great graunde captayne' (I. 400) of the people 
and baptism as the 'lyverye token' of the faithful (I. 413), imagery aimed as 
much at monastic dress as at the rebels who marched under the banner of 
Christ's Five Wounds. The livery of Christians lay not in cowls or noblemen's 
colours, nor in taking up arms against Gospel preachers but, under the token 
of baptism, in submitting themselves in all humility to those, like Cromwell 
and the king, who favor a sundering of 'mennes tradycyons' (II. 466-7) and 
a return to true religion. Warnings are added that on the day of judgement, 
such traditions will be unjustifiable without the inward conversion whose 
absence was clearly testified by resistance to the new learning's solafideism. 
Bale reiterates his theme in the closing monologue, directed specifically 
against monastic founders, monastic practices and men who now defend 
them: 

The waye that Johan taught was not to weare harde clothynge, 

To saye longe prayers, nor to wandre in the desart, . . . 

Hys mynde was that faythe shuld puryfye the hart. 

My ways, sayth the Lorde, with mennys ways have no part. (II. 472-76) 

Give eare unto Christ, let mennys vayne fantasyes go. 

As the father bad by hys most hygh commaundement 

Heare neyther Frances, Benedyct nor Bruno, 

Albert nor Domynyck, for they newe rulers invent. (II. 486-89) 

The word of God becomes the focus of Bale's short sequel The temptacyon 
of our lorde. In his prologue, he urges those who have a true vocation to accept 
the Spirit as their guide and Jesus as their model. But Bale must interpret the 
Gospel narrative of Jesus' s life for his audience, lest they find in it support 
for practices now under censure. To the traditional view that mortification of 
the flesh was a remedy for temptation. Bale urges, 'For the assaultes of Sathan 
leme here the remedye; / Take the worde of God, lete that be your defence.' 
(n. 29-30) And further, he has Jesus warn the audience, 

Thynke, not me to fast bycause I wolde yow to fast. 

For than ye thynke wronge and have vayne judgement. 

But of my fastynge thynke rather thy s my cast: 

Sathan to provoke to worke hys cursed intent. 

And to te ache yow way es hys myschefes to prevent 

By the worde of God, whych must be your defence 

Rather thanfastynges, to withstande hys vyolence. (II. 43-49, my italics) 



Renaissance et Réforme / 133 

During the three temptations of Jesus, Satan is met by Scripture rather than 
works (II. 138ff, 208ff, 318ff) and complains, 'Nothynge can I laye but ever 
ye avoyde me / By the worde of God.' (II. 285-6) 

Using terminology familiar to all regulars. Bale presents Christ's sojourn 
in the desert and his subsequent preaching as the proper 'offyce' (H. 9, 143) 
and likens the persecutions he suffered during his desert sojourn to those 
experienced by all 'whom Christ doth call.' (II. 15-20, 28) Having rejected 
the rule of Francis, Benedict and Bruno in the closing scene of the previous 
play as well as in his own apostasy. Bale offers a Protestant alternative: 

Gods worde is a rule for all that man shuld do 

And out of that nile no creature ought to go. (II. 151-52) 

The rule of the Gospel is the proper régula for Christians, and those religious 
who scoff at the thought of life outside the cloister are told that ascetic 
practices are nothing compared with the sufferings inflicted on true men of 
God.29 

To illustrate his belief that monastic orders and Scripture are not compat- 
ible. Bale presents Satan 'simulata rehgione Christum aggreditur' 'semynge 
relygyouse, devoute and sad in my geare' (I. 75), declaring 

Scriptures I knowe non for I am but an hermyte, I. 
I maye saye to yow it is no part of our stody; 
We relygyouse men lyve all in contemplacyon 
Scriptures to stodye is not our occupacyon; 
It longeth to doctours. (II. 157-61) 

Notwithstanding this admission of willed ignorance in Scriptural matters, 
Satan's assaults on Jesus hinge on Scriptural interpretations — interpretations 
easily refuted because of their very selectivity.^^ Jesus admonishes him; 

In no wyse ye ought the scriptures to deprave 

But as they lye whole so ought ye them to have. (II. 215-16) 

Bale suggests that it is out of spiritual pride that men support monastic 
orders, pride which tempts God. When Satan asks just what does it mean to 
tempt God, Jesus replies: 

To take of hys worde an outwarde experyment 

Of an ydle brayne, whych God neyther thought nor ment. 

When asked what persons do this, Jesus repUes: 



134 / Renaissance and Reformation 

All soch as forsake anye grace or remedye 
Appoynted of God for their owne polycye. 
As they that do thynke that God shuld fyll their bellye 
Without their labours, whan hys lawes are contrarye; 

and 

Those also tempt God that vowe presumptuouslye. 

Not havynge hys gyft to kepe their contynencye, 

With so manye els as folowe their good intentes. 

Not grounded on God, nor yet on hys commaundements; (II 255-64) 

Just as Jesus resisted turning stones in to bread out of faith that God would 
provide for his needs, Bale is asking the regulators to anticipate God's 
providence once they are out of the cloister. In a restrained polemical flourish, 
he includes references to monastic idleness and incontinency, but the mild- 
ness with which he offers these assessments is significant when compared 
with the catalogue of monastic abuses presented elsewhere in his writings. 
This degree of tonal control, essential for effective propaganda, further 
underscores the suggested appUcation for which these plays were intended. 
Bale closes his play with a challenge to the regulars: there is no life as 
rigorous as that to which the Gospel calls us. Satan is to be resisted 

Not with your fastynges — Christ never taught ye so — 
But with a stronge fayth withstande hys false suggestyon 
And with the scriptures upon hym ever go. (II. 413-15) 

In sum, we can see that this trilogy was written sometime after the death 
of Henry Fitzroy in July 1536 and the end of the northern risings the following 
winter (with particular reference to Advent.) That Bale's trilogy was ad- 
dressed primarily to a clerical audience, for whom the Reformation posed the 
most radical challenge, is clear from its content alone but is further borne out 
by the stage directions in the first play calling for choral singing of Latin 
antiphons with organ accompaniment and in later presentation of Christ's 
message in terms deliberately echoing monastic language and criticizing 
specific monastic practices. Bale speaks of Christ's 'office' (Johan Baptystes 
preachynge 1. 425, The temptacyon of our lorde, 1. 9) the 'rule' of God's word 
{Johan Baptystes preachynge II. 151-2), and frequently emphasises the 
monastic virtues of obedience, patience, and humility, (e.g. obedience, Johan 
Baptystes preachynge I. 380; humility Johan Baptystes preachynge II. 30, 
366, 369, 461 , 464; patience. The temptacyon of our lorde 1. 33.) His reformed 



Renaissance et Réforme / 135 

theology, presented in the simplified terms essential for propaganda, is here 
restrained and decorous, appeahng both to the desire for conventionally 
expressed religious discipline (which Bale presented as the rule of God's 
word) as well as to the Protestant notion that monastic orders were, in fact, 
Satan's subtle strategems lacking scriptural support and therefore offensive 
to true religion. In place of monastic observance. Bale offers the office of 
preaching, for which he held up John and Jesus as examples. 

Ultimately, Cromwell's efforts failed to contain the events they triggered. 
Despite his far-flung network of agents and supporters, Cromwell himself 
proved incapable of defusing the largely court-centered opposition to evan- 
geUcal reforms, opposition which sent him to the block in 1540 and many of 
his propagandists into exile. But the message his dramatists brought to the 
fringes of the troubled North in 1537/38 and elsewhere may have had some 
impact. There was no repeat of the Pilgrimage of Grace when the big abbeys 
came down, and despite their ad hoc nature, the plays gained new relevance 
following the imposition of the 6 Articles in 1539 and other legislation which 
reaffirmed many practices repugnant to radical reformers. It was for this 
reason that Bale took these works with him into exile, and saw to their 
publication and later production. 

University ofOtago 

Notes 

* I would like to thank Professor Alistair Fox for his helpful criticism during the writing 
of this paper. 

1. For Cromwell's propaganda campaign, seeG.R. EXXon, Policy and Police: The Enforce- 
ment of the Reformation in the Age of Thomas Cromwell, (Cambridge, 1972), pp. 
171-216; J. Block, "Thomas Cromwell's Patronage of Preaching," Sixteenth Century 
Journal VIII (April, 1977), pp. 37-50. For an introduction to political drama in this 
p)eriod, see D. Bevington, Tudor Drama and Politics: a Critical Approach to Topical 
Meaning (Cambridge, Mass. 1968); S Anglo, Spectacle, Pageantry, and Early Tudor 
Policy, (Oxford, 1969); A. Fox, Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and 
Henry VIII (Oxford, 1989); and R. Blackburn, Biblical Drama under the Tudor s (The 
Hague and Paris, 1971). The author is currently working on a detailed analysis of the 
use of drama during the Henrician Reformation, including the Cromwell/Bale partner- 
ship. 

2. For the most complete compilation of data concerning drama in England until 1558, 
see I. Lancashire, Dramatic Texts and Records of Great Britain: a Chronological 
Survey to 1558 (Toronto, 1984), esp. Appendix I, pp. 349-408 for dramatic companies 
and their patrons. 

3. For Bale's bibliography and biography, see W.T. Davies, "A Bibliography of John 
Bale," Oxford Bibliographical Society, Proceedings and Papers V, pt.iv 1939 (1940), 
pp. 201-279; H. McCusker, John Bale, Dramatist and Antiquary 1942 (rpr. Freeport, 



1 36 / Renaissance and Reformation 

1971); J.W. Harris, John Bale: a Study in Minor Literature of the Reformation (Urbana, 
1940); to some extent these have all been replaced by L. Fairfield, John Bale: 
Mythmaker for the English Reformation (West Lafayette, 1 976); for a critical introduc- 
tion to Bale's plays, see T. Blatt, The Plays of John Bale (Copenhagen, 1968). Bale's 
plays have received an excellent modem edition by P. Happe', Complete Plays of John 
Bale, 2 vols., (Cambridge, 1985-6). All references to the plays in this article cite line 
numbers from this edition; for the demise of cycle plays, see G. Wickham, Early 
English Stage, London, 1980, 1, pp. 112-123. 

4. See Fairfield, Mythmaker, chaps. 3 and 4. 

5. Cromwell had come to Bale's aid before, which Bale credited to his playwriting ability. 
But as Bale held no position other than that of a stipendiary curate in Suffolk until 
1537, Cromwell's patronage must have been very active. For various accounts of Bale's 
troubles until Cromwell began using his services in early 1537, see A.G. Dickens, 
Lollards and Protestants in the Diocese of York (Oxford 1959) pp. 144-5; Fairfield, 
John Bale: Mythmaker, pp. 36-49; and McCusker, John Bale, Dramatist pp. 6-13 who 
prints Bale's own answer to the charges against him as well as letters from Bale and 
Leland to Cromwell from around the same time. The calendered abstracts are unreli- 
able, cf. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII 
1509-1547, eds. J. Brewer et al. 21 vols plus Addenda, Vol. (London 1867-1920), 
henceforth LP followed by volume, part, and document number) XL 1111 (which 
should be re-dated to early 1537) and XII, i, 230. 

6. Harris, John Bale, pp. 65-6; LP XIV, ii, p. 337; Lancashire, Dramatic Texts and 
Records, p. 380; J E Cox (ed.) Miscellaneous Writings and Letters of Thomas Cranmer 
Parker Society (Cambridge, 1846) p. 388; Happe' Complete plays I, pp. 4-7; John Bale, 
The Vocacyon of John Bale, Harleian Miscellany VI (London, 1810) p. 450; Records 
of Early English Drama: Cambridge, ed. Alan Nelson (Toronto, 1989), i, pp. 112, 114, 
119) 

7. See Happe', Complete Plays, I, p. 6-7. 

8. The cult was officially suppressed on 16 November, 1538 and the saint's name was to 
be effaced from all service books. Tudor Royal Proclamations, eds. P. Hughes and J. 
Larkin, Vol. I (New Haven and London 1964) no. 186. The shrine had begun to be 
dismantled by Richard Pollard and others on 7 September, the night before Bale's 
performance. LP XIII, ii, 302, 303, 417. The king and most of the court were present. 

9. See Historical Manuscript Commission, 15th Report, pt. 10 (1899), p. 34 for Shrews- 
bury; Lancashire, Dramatic Texts and Records #833 for Leicester. 

1 0. See McCusker, John Bale, pp. 5 ff. 

1 1. For introductory remarks on the Pilgrimage of Grace, see Guy, Tudor England {Oxford, 
1989) pp. 149, 152; D. Knowles, The Religious Orders in England, v.III (Oxford, 1959) 
pp. 320-335; and the useful but dated M. and R. Dodds The Pilgrimage of Grace, 
1536-37 and the Exeter Conspiracy 1538 (2 vols., Cambridge, 1915); for political 
songs sung at Thetford see LP XII, i, 424 and against Cromwell, LP XII, i, 318; for 
uprisings in Wales, see LP XII, i, 1 148, 1271, 1272; for the offending May Day game 
in Suffolk, see LP XH, i, 1212, 1284. 

12. LP XII, i, 808; LP XII, ii, 800. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 1 37 

13. Dodds, Pilgrimage of Grace, ii, p. 155; G. Cook, Letters to Cromwell and Others on 
the Suppression of thé Monasteries (London, 1965), pp. 129, 137; LP XII, ii, 190; 
Lewes priory followed in voluntary submission to the king in November 1537, LP XII, 
ii, 1101. 

14. LP Xll,n, 1314, 1101, 1311(30). 

15. Just to whom these plays would be acceptable in the late 1530's is a good question. 
Bale seems to have put on King Johan before Cranmer but after the appearance of the 
6 Articles in 1539, it would take a brave actor indeed to present its lines. 

16. W. Dugdale Monasticon Anglicanum, eds. Calley and Ellis, 6 vols. (London, 1817- 
1830), v (1825), pp. 141 ff. 

17. R. Beadle, "Plays and Playing at Thetford and Nearby 1498-1540", Theatre Notebook 
32 (1978), pp. 4-11; D. Galloway and J. Wasson, eds.. Records of Plays and Players 
in Norfolk and Suffolk 1 3 30- 1 642, Malone Society Collections XI (1980), pp. 104-1 15. 
The yearly accounts were kept from 24 June to 23 June. For 1537/38, the entries for 
drama are spread across 6 pages. From their grouping one may only hazard the guess 
that Cromwell's men were not accompanied by any of the other troupes to appear that 
year. 

18. For evidence that Bale updated King Johan and Thre Lawes, see Happe' Complete 
Plays I, pp. 8-11; the added list of relics in these two plays seems to have rendered 
them particularly appropriate for Cromwell's campaign against images in 1538; King 
Johan was updated at least as late as 3 1 August 1538 because of the reference to John 
Shome's boot (I. 1225); see LP 13, ii, 235; reference to St. Uncumber (I. 532) suggests 
that Thre Lawes was updated as late as 16 July, 1538 when this shrine came down in 
London, LP XIII, i, 1393. Bale added to these plays while in exile, but his alterations 
mainly reflect the change in monarchs. See e.g. King Johan I. 2671, Thre Lawes II. 
2040, 1575-76, etc. 

19. For the series as a trilogy, see Happe' Complete Plays I, p. 12-13. 

20. E.S. Miller, "The Antiphons in Bale's Cycle of Christ," Studies in Philology 48 (1951) 
pp. 629-38; Happe' Complete Plays I, pp.23 ff. 

2 1 . See S. Anglo, Spectacle, Pageantry and Early Tudor Policy, p. 2 1 4; David was one of 
Henry VIII's favorite biblical characters. Tyndale too made much use of David's 
adultery to show what punishment results from flouting God's laws, even by pious 
kings, in his 'Exposition of Matthew' V, VI, VII, (ed.) Duffield, The Works of William 
Tyndale, Courtenay Library of Reformation Classics, I (Appleford, 1964) p. 228. 

22. Throughout these three plays. Bale is largely faithful to the scriptural accounts. His 
belief in Scripture's inerrancy and in the precision with which it could be applied to 
the present is seen here in its earliest phase. Later, Bale relies heavily on Scripture to 
formulate his understanding of the historical ages of the true Church — an understanding 
shared by the Protestant martyrologist John Foxe. 

23. Wriothesley' s Chronicle, ed. W. Hamilton, Camden Society (1875), i, pp. 53-54. 

24. LP XI, 162,310,405,501,970, 1181. 

25. McCusker, John Bale, pp. 10-1 1. 

26. E.S. Miller, "The Roman Rite in Bale's King John," Publications of the Modern 
Language Association, 49 (1959) pp. 802-22; Other literary priests used canonical or 



138 / Renaissance and Refonnation 

sacramental rites, particularly the confessional, as a basis for parody. See J. Wilson, 
"Skelton's Ware the Hauke and the 'Circumstances' of Sin" Medium Aevum LVII 
(1989) pp. 243-57. 

27. The theme of newness illustrates the reformers' use of Gospel history to illuminate 
contemporary events (cf. II. 17, 207-8, 211, 282, 275 etc.) John's news, which was 
indeed new, becomes in Bale the 'newe lemyng' — that is, a return to what reformers 
called Biblical Christianity. 

28. Again, in his answer to the articles against him in 1536/7 Bale responds that he was 
working in the king's cause, upholding the 10 Articles; McCusker, /o/i« Bale, pp. 6-11. 

29. Using Christ (and the recent Protestant martyrs) as his models. Bale stresses the 
persecutions in store for those who follow Christ: e.g. "If ye folowe Christ, with hym 
ye must be beate" The temptacyon of our lorde, I. 28. Here he echoes Tyndale's call 
for baptism in tribulation. The Obedie[n]ce of a Christen Man (Antwerp, 1528) fos, 
vi-x. 

30. English Bibles remained unavailable in England until Cromwell's injunctions of 
September 1538 although it was not until sometime in 1539 that they were available 
in any quantity. For a short account of the Bible in English, see S.L. Greenslade, 
'English Versions of the Bible 1525-1611' Cambridge history of the Bible, 3 vols., 
(Cambridge, 1963-70) iii, pp. 149-53. 



The Family of Love and the Church of 
England 



k 



MARK KONNERT 



1 he Family of Love is one of the relatively obscure groups of the Refor- 
mation which has attracted a fair bit of historians 'attention in recent years. 
Founded by a Dutchman, H.N. (a pseudonym for Hendrik Niclaes), it has 
nevertheless been asserted that the Family of Love attracted its greatest 
following in England. So great was this following, apparently, that the 
Family of Love was singled out for persecution in a Royal Proclamation of 
1580, the only sect to be so singled out.^ 

This proclamation was preceded and accompanied by a substantial body 
of polemical literature which reflected a widespread concern with the Family 
of Love. This literature, and the Royal Proclamation, assume that the Family 
of Love was indeed large and growing, and was therefore a threat. This 
assumption has persisted through the centuries and is now reflected in a 
considerable body of historical literature. Is this assumption founded on 
historical fact? Did the Family of Love indeed pose such a threat? If, as this 
article will show, the historical evidence does not support this assumption, if 
the Family of Love posed no real danger and was neither as large nor as 
important as perceived at the time, then why did it provoke such a vehement 
reaction? 

The assumptions of English authorities in the sixteenth century towards the 
Family of Love in England have influenced modem historiography in several 
ways. The paucity of hard documentary evidence on the Family in England 
has forced historians to rely on the anti-Family literature surrounding the 
Royal Proclamation. Specifically, these works are: The Displaying of an 
horrible Secte of grosse and wicked hérétiques (1578) by John Rogers; A 
Confutation of Monstrous Heresies Taught by H.N. (1579) by John 
Knewstubb; and A Confutation of Certain Articles delivered unto the Family 
of Love (1579) by William Wilkinson. Together, these three works dictated 
the attitude of the Church and the government towards the Family of Love, 



Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVI, 2 ( 199 1 ) 139 



140 / Renaissance and Reformation 

and their reaction to it. Through the works of eariier generations of historians, 
the views expressed in these works have been transmitted to modem histori- 
ans. Although modem historians have recognized the polemical nature of 
these works, and have weighed their charges against the Family of Love very 
cautiously, they are still accepted as historical evidence in very suspect ways. 

I 

The facts of H.N'S life are shrouded in mystery.^ Bom probably in Munster 
in 1501 or 1502 he lived for a time in Amsterdam and Emden, being forced 
to flee both places when suspicion of heresy was cast upon him. From his 
flight from Emden in 1560 until his death in Cologne in 1580 or 1581, he 
apparently led a peripatetic existence. 

Niclaes wrote frequently and voluminously. His chief work, The Glass of 
Righteousness (Den Spiegel der Gherechticheit) mns to over 800 folio pages. 
His style is difficult and obscure, laden with Scriptural references and 
mystical allegories. At the core of his doctrine is the concept of Vergottung 
or "begoddedness," a mystical infusion of the Spirit of Love of Jesus Christ 
in which the will of the believer is subsumed in the will of God. While the 
purpose of this article is not to examine his teachings in any great detail, one 
point is cmcial: these concepts are not unique to Niclaes and the Family of 
Love. These spiritualist/mystical ideas have been common in Christianity 
from the Early Church right down to the present. They were available to 
Niclaes in such medieval sources as Joachim of Fiore, Tauler, Eckhart, a 
Kempis, and the Theologica Germanica? Thus, there is an absolutely cmcial 
distinction between "familist" and the "Family of Love;" that is, between 
people and groups who exhibit certain of the same characteristics and those 
who actually belong to the sect called the Family of Love. To identify the 
two, as many have done, is to greatly magnify the sect's numbers. 

It is a common assertion in the literature on the Niclaes and the Family of 
Love that they found their greatest following in England. According to this 
standard view, at some time during the 1560's or 70's, the sect began to 
expand in England under the dual impetus of the translation of several of 
H.N.'s works and the missionary activity of one Christopher Vitell (or Vitel, 
Vittell, etc.)."* Eventually the sect grew to such an extent that it attracted 
official notice and repression, culminating in the Royal Proclamation of 1580. 
Though persecuted, the sect survived underground, for in 1604, its members 
addressed a petition to the newly acceded James L The sect attracted more 
followers in the seventeenth century, as home out by frequent hostile refer- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 141 

ences to it, including a Middleton farce called The Family of Love. During 
the Civil War, H.N. 's works were reprinted, evidence of yet further growth. 
Sometime in the later seventeenth century, the sect died out, possibly as a 
result of its members joining other groups such as the Quakers.^ 

n 

Yet what actual historical evidence is there to support his view of the Family's 
history in England? The evidence for the history of the Family of Love in 
England is of three major types: actual documentary sources (confessions of 
Familists, government records, and the like); works attributed to members of 
the Family of Love, including translations of H.N. himself; and works written 
by authors hostile to the Family of Love. 

The actual documentary sources for the history of the Family of Love in 
England are very few. The first we come across is a confession taken in 
Guildford in Surrey on May 28, 1561 by William More.^ This confession was 
given by Thomas Chaundeler and Robert Sterete and included by John Rogers 
in his Displaying of 1578. In it, the two men describe a group of sectaries 
complete with secret conventicles, passwords, and an ethical code. Many of 
the articles to which the two subscribed sound very much indeed like the 
teaching of Niclaes. Significantly, however, neither the Family of Love nor 
H.N. are once mentioned by name. However, in one article (omitted by 
Rogers) there is a passing reference to "Henrike, a Dutchman, the head of all 
the congregation."^ This, for some, is conclusive evidence that this Surrey 
group was a cell of the Family of Love.^ The two men also allude to 
connections that their Surrey group had with other cells "in divers places of 
the realm ... as in the Isle of Ely, Essex, Berkshire, Sussex, Surrey, Hamp- 
shire, Devonshire, and London."^ The references to the Isle of Ely and London 
are especially tantalizing for, as we shall see, in these places there is evidence 
that the Family of Love was active. ^^ 

Were these two men and the groups they describe Familists? Perhaps, in 
the sense alluded to above: they did exhibit certain characteristics which are 
similar to Niclaes ' teachings. Were they members of the sect called the Family 
of Love? Probably not. Tempting as it is to identify the "Henrike" of the 
confession with Niclaes, in the absence of more conclusive evidence, the 
connection cannot be made. For one thing, the time frame is wrong. Niclaes' 
works were not translated into English until the mid 1570's. The Surrey 
sectaries are characterized by More as "all unlearned, saving that some of 
them can read English and that not very perfectly."*^ So it seems impossible 



142 / Renaissance and Reformation 

that they could have read Niclaes in English, let alone in the original Low 
German. 

Additional evidence has been adduced by Joseph Martin to try to show that 
this was indeed a cell of the Family of Love. ^^ Following the career of Thomas 
Allen of Wonersh, identified in the confession as an elder, he concludes that 
this must have been the Family of Love. Looking into the later papers of Sir 
William More, Martin discovers that the Surrey magistrate found that Allen 
possessed " ... a booke of h n prevelye hidden at the verye time of my 
comynge for i sawe his wyfe when she dyd secretlie covere hit."^^ Neverthe- 
less, this episode occurred some twenty years after 1561, and there is no 
evidence that "Allen" (even if it is the same person — no Christian name is 
given for the later Allen) was a member of the Family of Love in 1561. In 
addition, Christopher Vitell, when confronted with this 1561 confession by 
John Rogers in 1578, denied that they were at that time members of the Family 
of Love: "of H.N. his doctrine at that time they knew not."^"* What is, of 
course, entirely possible is that in the meantime they had become acquainted 
with the Family of Love and become followers of H.N. This would account 
for "Allen's" possession of H.N.'s books. Indeed, Alastair Hamilton seems 
to be right on the mark when he says, "[t]he most we can say there fore, is 
that the sectarians were ready to receive the Familist doctrine."'^ 

Then there is the case of Family of Love activity at Court. On September 
28, 1578, the Privy Council sent a letter to Aylmer, then Bishop of London, 
"requiring him to call unto him Robert Seale, Thomas Mathewe, Lewes 
Stewarde, Anthony Enscombe and William Eling, Yeomen of the Garde, 
persons noted to be of the secte called the Familie of Love, and to conferre 
with them for their reformation in Relligion. ... "^^ However, a week and a 
half later Aylmer informed the Council that "those of her Majesties Gard 
suspected to be of the Family of Love ... are in all pointes of Religion verie 
sound." Two years later, however, on October 9, 1580 (the Royal Proclama- 
tion was issued on October 3), two Yeomen of the Guard identified as — Seale 
and Mathewe — (obviously the same Robert Seale and Thomas Mathewe) 
were "committed to the prison of Marshallsea, refusing to subscribe unto 
certain erroneous and false articles gathered out of the bookes of one H.N., 
supposed to be the author of a certaine Secte called the Familie of Love, 
whereof they were vehemently suspected to be, and order geven to the Gierke 
of the Checke to take her Majesties coate from them."^^ Shortly there after 
Anthonie Ediscombe (obviously the Anthony Enscombe of 1578, "being 
suspected to be one of the sect of the Familie of Love, denied the same before 
ther Lordships. ... "^^ On November 30, 1580, Thomas Seale (a relative of 



Renaissance et Réforme / 143 

Robert Seale?) "charged before their Lordships with certen lewde and irrev- 
erent speeches of a certen person . . . being of the Secte called the Familie of 
Love," was committed to Marshallsea, "there to remayne to be furder examine 
and proceded with all as shold appertained' '^ The only other bit of evidence 
regarding this case is a undated manuscript among the Harley manuscripts in 
the British Museum which would seem to be a confession of the accused 
guards.'^^ These men were almost certainly members of the Family of Love, 
and we shall have occasion to refer to them again. 

That the Family of Love's center of activity was Cambridgeshire and the 
Isle of Ely becomes apparent in several other confessions. In December of 
1574, Dr. Andrew Feme, the Dean of Ely, alarmed by reports of private 
assemblies in the parish of Balsham, examined six villagers, among whom 
were Robert Sharpe, parson at Strethall, in Essex, Edmund Rule, and two 
members of the Lawrence family. ^^ Feme was apparently satisfied with their 
answers and no further action was taken.'^-^ However, some six months later 
Robert Sharpe, along with five others recanted their belief in the Family of 
Love at Paul's Cross.-^^ That Sharpe, and by extension the Balsham group, 
were members of the Family of Love, there is little doubt. Sharpe admitted 
in his recantation that he had "heretofore unadvisedly conceyved good 
opinion of certaine books of an author, otherwise unknown, save only that he 
noteth himself by the letters H.N.''^"^ 

In 1580, Richard Cox, Bishop of Ely, at the urging of William Wilkinson, 
who had dedicated his Confutation to the Bishop, embarked on a campaign 
to hunt down the Family of Love in his diocese. As a result, a group of people 
from Wisbech were examined by the Bishop between October 3 and 5, 1580. 
Again, note the timing: Cox's campaign is simultaneous with the promul- 
gation of the Royal Proclamation. The leader of this group appears to have 
been John Bourne, a glover. All nine people examined recanted their beUef 
in H.N. and the Family of Love.^^ What happened to this group afterwards is 
unknown. Certainly, they may have, as Felicity Heal suggests, returned to the 
sect.^^ This would be quite consistent with the behavior alleged as typical of 
the Family of Love. There is, however, no evidence for it. 

There is one other bit of evidence concerning the Wisbech group. This is 
a confession dictated to "Thomas Barwicke, minister," by Bourne's appren- 
tice, Leonard Romsey.^^ Apparently Romsey had escaped questioning with 
his master and made his confession at some later date. Romsey describes how 
his master brought him into the sect and touches on their beliefs. Most 
interesting from our point of view, however, is his allusion to their connec- 
tions at Court: 



144 / Renaissance and Reformation 

for it being reported upon a time that a commission was granted forth against 
us of Wisbech we had letter from the Family of Love in the court, from one 
Dorrington and Zeale, wherein we were advertised how to behave our 
selves before the commissioners and charged that we should deny that we 
had seen any of the books of H.N., whereupon all the books were conveyed.^^ 

Here is the only evidence of any connections between different groups of the 
Family of Love. It appears that "Dorrington and Zeale" (either Thomas or 
Robert Scale), acting upon their inside information, had informed their 
co-religionists at Wisbech of the upcoming persecution. 

The possibility remains, however, that Romsey's confession was some- 
what manufactured. Alastair Hamilton believes that the confession played too 
perfectly into the hands of the authorities to be as voluntary as advertised.^^ 
There is also the possibility that Romsey had been embittered against his 
employer and purposely sought to damage him. In his confession, Romsey 
states that the sect was planning an armed uprising "when they are of 
sufficient number to undertake the matter. "^° Certainly H.N. would never 
have approved of this. Perhaps this was an idiosyncratic belief of the Wisbech 
group, or maybe the interrogators asked the questions in such a way as to lead 
to this statement, or perhaps Romsey was trying to make himself seem more 
important in the eyes of the authorities. 

The second category of evidence for the history of the Family of Love in 
England consists of written works attributed to members of the Family. Chief 
among these, of course, are the translations of H.N.'s own works. ^' 

In addition to the English translations of Niclaes' works, there are several 
other English translations of continental Familist tracts. One of these is A 
Good and fruitful I Exhortation unto the Family of Love by "Elidad," identified 
only as a "fellow elder with the elder H.N.;" A distinct declaration of the 
requiring of the Lord, by "Fidelitas," a "fellow elder with H.N. in the Famelie 
of Loue;" Mirabilia Opera Dei: Certaine wonderfull works of God which 
hapned to H.N. by "Tobias," a hagiographical account of H.N.'s life and 
works; and A Reproofe Spoken and Given against all False Christians by 
"Abia Nazarenus." Julia Ebel has speculated that this is a pseudonym for 
Vitell himself, but this is without substantiation.^^ 

What do these works tell us about the Family of Love in England? Apart 
from the preface to A Reproofe, England or English people are not mentioned 
at all. Yet the very fact that these works were translated from "base-almayne" 
or "nether- Saxon" into English indicates that somebody thought the task was 
worthwhile. The expense and labor of translating, printing, and (after 1580 



Renaissance et Réforme / 145 

surreptitiously) transporting them into England, indicates that they were not 
shots in the dark, so to speak. Somebody was on the receiving end; there had 
to be a demand for them, however small. That these works actually found 
their way to England and were read by English members of the Family of 
Love is borne out by other sources. In the confession of the Family of Love 
at Wisbech, John Bourne admitted that among the works of H.N. which he 
possessed were also the works of "Elidad" and "Fidelitas."^^ 

From time to time, English members of the Family of Love took it upon 
themselves to defend themselves in print. The first of these defenses is the 
anonymous Brief Rehear sail, printed in 1575. As might be expected, the 
thrust of the Brief Rehearsall is that the Family of Love is no threat. 
Throughout, the author or authors protest their loyalty, obedience, and peace- 
fulness. As also might be expected, the Brief Rehearsall downplays the 
foreign origins of the sect and its heterodox nature. 

The significance of this document is not easy to assess. It does show that 
there were definitely members of the Family of Love sufficiently literate to 
pen it, sophisticated enough to couch it in the proper language, and powerful 
enough to have it printed. Who these people were, in the absence of further 
evidence, must remain a matter of speculation. 

Another anonymous document attributed the Family of Love is An Apology 
for the Service of Love. This work is in the form of a play, a discussion between 
three characters: Exile, a member of the Family of Love, Citizen, and 
Countryman. Again, this is an attempt on the part of the Family of Love to 
answer the charges against them. However, rather than, as in A Brief 
Rehearsall, where only general statements are made about the group's loyalty 
and orthodoxy, in An Apology, charges are answered in specific: 

Citizen: Wilt thou deny the Sacrament of Baptisme? 
Exile: Though I speak of the true Baptism of regeneration through repen- 
tance, and newness of life, yet do I not deny the holy sacrament of Baptisme, 
which signifieth regeneration in Christ and is ministered unto Infants, though 
some have most unjustly reported to us.^"* 

The question of authorship, here as with A Brief Rehearsall, must remain 
in the realm of speculation. However, in the case of An Apology, we are at 
least given a clue. In the preface, the author describes himself as "one of her 
Majesties menial servants, who was in no small esteem with Her, for his 
known wisdom and godliness."^^ The category of "menial servants" would 
seem to fit the Yeoman Guards, among whom, as we have seen, the Family 
of Love was popular. 



146 / Renaissance and Reformation 

The only other document we have which definitely is a work of the Family 
of Love is a petition addressed to James I in 1604, shortly after his accession.^^ 
This petition, couched in the subservient language of humble subjects ad- 
dressing their monarch, seeks to correct His Majesty's view of the sect. The 
petitioners 

doe beseech your Princely Majesty to understand that the people of the 
family of love, or of God, doe utterly disclaime and detest all the said absurd 
and self-conceited opinions and disobedient and erroneous sorts of the 
Anabaptists, Browne, Penry, Puritans, and all other proud minded sects and 
heresies whatsoever, protesting upon paine of our lives, that wee are not 
consenting with any such brainesicke preachers, nor their rebellious and 
disobedient sects whatsoever, but have been, and ever will be truly obedient 
to your Highnesse. . . . ^^ 

Their only offense, they say, is that "we have read certaine bookes brought 
forth by a Germane authour under the characters of H.N."^^ They also claim, 
probably somewhat dishonestly, for they must have known of the 1580 
Proclamation, "Against which Authour and his books we never yet heard nor 
knew any Law established this Realme by our late gracious Sovereigne."^^ 
They have been victimized by "malicious and slanderous reports," and by 
magistrates who "have framed divers and subtle articles for us, being plaine 
and unlearned men to answer upon our oaths, whereby to urge and gather 
somethings from our selves, so to approve their false and unchristian accusa- 
tions to be true. . . . "^^ 

Their request is that the King only read H.N.'s works for himself and meet 
with elders of the Family of Love to discuss them. Interestingly, they offer 

to procure some of the learned men out of that Country (if there be any yet 
remaining alive that were well acquainted with the Author and his works in 
his life time, and which likewise have exercized his works ever since) to 
come over and attend upon your Majesty at your appointed time convenient, 
who can much more sufficiently instruct and resolve your Majesty in any 
unusual words, phrase, or matter that may happily seem darke and doubtfull 
to your Majesty than any of us in this land are able to doe.'*' 

The 1604 petition is the last direct evidence we have for the existence of 
the Family of Love in England. No more is heard from the sect. All we get 
from now on are hostile accounts and innuendo. It does indeed seem likely 
that the 1604 petition represents the sect's last gasp, or at least its last attempt 
at justifying itself before the authorities. If there were any members after this. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 147 

they probably kept their beliefs to themselves, giving up any hope of evan- 
gelization or vindication. 

The third type of evidence concerning the Family of Love in England is 
certainly the most plentiful and the most misunderstood: hostile writings 
against the sect. Besides the major works of Rogers, Knewstubb, and Wilkin- 
son, there are a number of minor and incidental attacks. Almost everyone who 
set pen to paper on the subject of religion found space to attack the Family. 
The crucial point, however, is the repetitiveness of the charges and their 
origin. Virtually every accusation against H.N. and the Family of Love can 
be traced back to the works of Rogers, Knewstubb, and Wilkinson."^^ 

When the Family of Love vanished from the historical record after the 
petition to James I, the attacks upon it did not cease. After all, what could be 
easier than attacking a group that would not or could not defend itself? If we 
go on the assumption that the number of hostile references to the sect are an 
accurate guide to its fortunes, then obviously we could conclude that the 
Family of Love maintained its existence and even grew during the first half 
of the seventeenth century. However, this view is a result of faulty method- 
ology. In Hamilton's words, "the numerical power of the Familists in the 
seventeenth century was very far from corresponding to the ever more 
frequent complaints against them.'"^^ In fact, if we look at the complaints 
against them, we see that those being called Familists, even if they shared 
H.N.'s mystical views, even if they had read and approved of this works, were 
not members of the Family of Love. They were called Familists because that 
was one of the worst names their critics could think of.'*'* 

The reprinting of many of Niclaes' works in the 1640' s and 1650' s has 
been seen by some as evidence of a resurgence in the Family's fortunes. 
However, most of these editions were printed by Giles Calvert, who also 
printed many Quaker and Leveller works, as well as translations of Jacob 
Boehme, of whose works he published just as many as he did of Niclaes. "^^ 
This indicates a renewed interest in Spiritualist religion and radical mysti- 
cism, but not a new period of growth for the Family of Love. 

Throughout the Civil War period and even into the Restoration, the name 
"Familist" was a term of abuse. It was used because of its connotations of 
libertinism, perfectionism, anti nomianism, and deceit. It was quite simply 
one of the worst things to be called. 

One of the last, tantalizing references to the Family of Love is contained 
in the diaries of John Evelyn. He recounts that several people of the Family 
of Love had presented a petition to James II in 1687. When the King asked 
about their form of worship, they described themselves as "a sort of refined 



148 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Quakers ... not above three-score in all ... chiefly belonging to the Isle of 
£jy"46 Perhaps, after all, a small group had managed to survive in 
Cambridgeshire for eighty years or so. This would accord with Strype's 
statement in 1725: 

"I remember a gemleman, a great admirer of this sect, within less than twenty 
years ago, told me, that there was but one of the Family of Love alive, and 
he an old man."^^ 

If, however, this group did survive, it was only because they were so 
insignificant as to escape official notice and repression. A far cry indeed from 
the view which hostile writers (and some modem historians) have presented. 
On the other hand, there may be no genetic connection at all. With the 
reprinting of H.N.'s works in the 1640's and 50's, there may have been some 
kind of small revival, or an already existing, but unconnected group may have 
appropriated the name for themselves.'*^ 

m 

The view of sixteenth and and seventeenth century commentators of the 
origins and growth of the Family of Love have found their way into modem 
historiography, transmitted by Church historians such as Thomas Fuller and 
John Strype.'*^ 

More recent treatments of the Family of Love fall into two general catego- 
ries. One of these is the condemnation of the fanatical persecution of harmless 
mystics who posed no danger to the state or the social order.^^ The other is 
parallel to the first, but has more to do with a "quest for roots" on the part of 
modem groups, especially the Quakers.^ • 

Combining both categories is Rufus Jones' interpretation. Jones, as a 
Quaker, identifies many of the beliefs of the Family of Love with the original 
Quakers of the late seventeenth century. His tone is admiring. Here was a 
group that was "at its best the exponent of a very lofty type of mystical 
religion," whose founder "was a very extraordinary character, and his volu- 
minous writings contain spiritual insights and religious teachings which 
deserve to be rescued from the oblivion into which they have largely fallen." 
Jones especially commends their em phasis on an inward transformation, their 
pacifism, their "concern that the life should be put above forms," their 
insistence "on spiritualizing this life rather than on dogmatizing about the 
next life," and their desire for moral rectitude. Jones is also concemed with 
intolerance and fanaticism, thus bringing together both streams of historical 



I 



Renaissance et Réforme / 149 

treatment mentioned above. He castigates H.N.'s critics as not penetrating 

"the meaning of his deep mystical teaching," as writing in a "spirit of bigotry 

and intolerance and in ignorance of the real teachings" of the Family of 

Love.^^ However, Jones' ultimate purpose is to show that the Family of Love 

influenced George Fox and the earlier Quakers, as well as the Seekers and 

Ranters, in an effort to place the Quakers in a longstanding and honorable, if 

widely misunderstood, tradition. 

Jones' treatment of the origins and history of the Family of Love in England 

is entirely standard. Nowhere has he attempted to re-examine the historical 

evidence relating to the Family of Love; indeed to do so is unnecessary, for 

the standard view accords very nicely with his own thesis. His view is 

dependent on the Family of Love surviving into the late seventeenth century 

and beyond, in order for them to have influenced the Quakers. Indeed, he goes 

so far as to state that "many Familists must have joined with Friends," 

although he does admit that "there is little positive proof of the fact that they 
did."53 

Emerging from these streams of historical treatment are attempts to de- 
scribe and explain the Family of Love not so much in terms of being an 
ancestor of this or that group or of its suppression as an example religious 
bigotry and fanaticism; rather, they try to describe and explain the Family of 
Love as a concrete historical phenomenon. 

Of course, these two historiographical streams are interdependent and 
intersect at a number of points. The more recent stream has had to rely on 
what has gone before, and herein lies its chief failing. For in relying on 
previous research and interpretation, the standard outline of the history of the 
Family of Love in England has assumed the proportions of a received truth, 
or at least of conventional wisdom. What no-one has thought worthwhile is 
to re-examine the conventional wisdom, particularly as regards the nature and 
extent of the Family of Love in England. 

Typical of this tendency is the work of Herman de la Fontaine- Verwey.^"^ 
De la Fontaine- Verwey, as do most recent commentators, approaches the 
Family of Love as being more important than previously thought. Indeed, this 
is the basic preconception that runs through all recent accounts. If it cannot 
be shown (as indeed it cannot, though some have tried) that the Family of 
Love was a widespread underground movement with a large number of 
adherents, then it becomes important 

in the greater understanding which has developed of the significance of the 
smaller churches, groups, and sects of the sixteenth century for the history 



150 / Renaissance and Reformation 

of ideas. It is becoming increasingly clear that these movements ... had 
considerable influence on the crisis of European consciousness at the end of 
the seventeenth century and the emergence of the modem world. For an 
understanding of this fact the study of sects in the sixteenth century provides 
on the keys.^^ 

One might already guess what his approach to the history of the Family of 
Love in England might be. It is unnecessary to again repeat the standard view, 
but a few quotations will suffice to show de la Fontaine-Verwey's adherence 
toit: 

there were Familists as early as 1553, at the beginning of Queen Mary's 
reign. Their leader was a cabinetmaker from Delft, Christopher Vittel. ... In 
the 1560's the sect expanded considerably. ... Despite persecution the sect 
endured. ... At the beginning of the Civil War ... [the] Familists, too, now 
appeared on the scene of opposition to the church.^^ 

There have since been other lengthy treatments of the Family of Love. Jean 
Dietz Moss, in her 1969 Ph.D. dissertation states: 

there are many contradictory statements about the Familists in modem 
histories of the period. . . . there is considerable confusion among modem 
historians as to who and what Familists were. The few studies which have 
investigated the society have focused on one or another aspects of it, and 
none has examined in depth the Family's teachings, as expressed by the 
founder, and their impact upon Englishmen.^'' 

This work, and another later article,^^ may then be seen as works of synthesis, 
attempts to reconcile the contradictions and state definitively the origins, 
history, and doctrines of the Family of Love. Unfortunately, she too accepts 
without question the conventional wisdom. The accounts of various hostile 
writers are taken at face value in the sense that they describe accurately the 
origins of the Family of Love in Vitell's missionary activity, the practices of 
early English Familism, and its subsequent spread and repression.^^ 

In the last fifteen years or so there have been numerous other works on the 
Family of Love in England. It is unnecessary to go through them all and show 
how they have all, with minor variations, followed the same approach. There 
has only one other lengthier treatment of the Family of Love.^ In it Alastair 
Hamilton provides the most useful and concise account of Niclaes and the 
Family of Love to date. In his account of the Family's history in England, 
however, he too accepts the standard view, albeit with some minor qualifica- 
tions. Thus, he doubts that the 1561 Surrey confession was really one of 



Renaissance et Réforme / 151 

devoted followers of H.N. and he concedes that "the numerical power of the 
Familists in the seventeenth century was very far from corresponding to the 
ever more frequent complaints against them."^* At no time, however, does he 
apply this methodological incisiveness to the history of the Family in England 
in the sixteenth century.^^ 

Here we are at the heart of the problem. As we have seen, there is very little 
objective evidence about the Family of Love in England. Of necessity, 
historians have had to base their accounts on hostile sources. There is nothing 
wrong with this in itself, as long as the hostile and polemical purposes of the 
writers are kept in mind. Of the recent commentators on the Family of Love, 
not one has taken the accounts of Rogers, Knewstubb, or Wilkinson at face 
value. There are lengthy passages to show that the early critics misinterpreted 
either unknowingly or wilfully, H.N.'s writings and doctrines. Thus we have 
seemingly endless quibbling about various aspects of Niclaes's doctrines on 
the Mass, baptism, and Scripture. While admitting that Niclaes' critics were 
motivated by polemical purposes, and pointing out that the particulars of their 
attacks must be carefully weighed, the sheer volume of these attacks must 
serve as some sort of guide to the rise and fall of the Family of Love. The 
underlying assumption is that even with the paucity of actual documentary 
sources, one can follow the fortunes of the Family of Love by looking at its 
critics and at governmental attempts to suppress it. This seems reasonable 
enough. Or is it? The great failing of this approach is that it assumes a constant 
attitude on the part of intellectuals, churchmen, and governmental authorities. 
If these people were always equally concerned with stamping out such sects, 
then this approach would be justified. But in fact they were not. It is as if an 
historian several centuries from now were to examine the United States in the 
early 1950's. Using this sort of approach, he would inevitably conclude, on 
the basis of Senator McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Com- 
mittee, that the Communist Party of the United States was attracting a large 
number of members and was actually about to overthrow the government. 

Thus we see that the standard view of the history of the Family of Love in 
England is an optical illusion based on small core of truth. The small core of 
truth is that there were groups of the Family of Love in Cambridgeshire and 
London. At no time, however, were these large or significant. Although the 
Family vanishes from sight after the petition to James I, it may have survived 
(but just barely) in the Isle of Ely into the last half of the seventeenth century. 
This core of truth was distorted by the general prevalence of "Familist" ideas, 
in no way unique to the Family of Love. More importantly, the standard 
historical view is based on the volume and vehemence with which the Family 



152 / Renaissance and Reformation 

of Love was attacked and repressed in England. It has already been shown 
that the response was out of all proportion to the threat. What remains is to 
explain why such an insignificant and harmless sect provoked such a violent 
reaction at that particular time. 

IV 

In order to answer these questions, we shall have to examine more closely the 
three writers who initiated the official reaction to the Family of Love, and 
whose works dictated the course of that reaction, and whose assertions have 
colored modem historiography of the Family of Love in England. These 
writers will be put in the context of Elizabethan religious politics, and we 
shall see that they were all inclined to the "puritan" side of the debates within 
the Church of England, and that this inclination influenced their attitudes 
towards the Family of Love, atti tudes which dominated the official reaction 
to the Family. 

The earliest printed attack on the Family of Love was John Rogers' The 
Displaying of an horrible Secte of grosse and wicked Hérétiques (1578). 
Unfortunately we are considerably less well-informed about his life than we 
would like. Most likely, he attended Oxford, where he graduated B.A. from 
Merton College in 1569-70 and M.A. from St. Alban's Hall in 1576.^^ 
Sharing a common theme that runs through all attacks on the Family of Love, 
Rogers identifies the Family of Love with the Anabaptists, stating that H.N. 
was the disciple of David Joris: 

David George was the hatcher of this heresie, and layde the egge, but H.N. 
brought forth the chickens.^ 

Henrie Nicholas . . . after the death of David George tooke upon him to 
maintaine the same doctrine, not in the name of David, but in his owne 
name.^^ 

As Stephen Batman mentions in his preface to Rogers' Displaying, action 
must be taken against the Family of Love, "or else wil assuredly follow the 
like plague on us, as was at Munster." ^^ 

Many of the accusations with which the Family of Love were charged in 
subsequent years seem to have originated with Rogers. These include the 
Family's purported libertinism and licentiousness,^^ their duplicitousness, ^ 
and that its members are really secret papists.^^ 



Renaissance et Réforme / 153 

Throughout the Displaying, Rogers is very conscious of firing the opening 
shots in an ongoing campaign: 

No man hitherto (that I can leame) hath endeavoured to confute them in 
writing.^^ 

He is also very conscious that others must carry on the battle: 

Notwithstanding, so many as either by the doctrine of Henrie Nicholas, or 
by conference 1 haue learned, I have setdowne, to the ende that some good 
man might be encouraged to confute so impious an author, and such horrible 
errours, and perfourme in some learned worke that which my want and 
capacitie is not able to supply. ... ^' 

It is enough for me to begiime the skirmishe, to display the Familie, to make 
readie the way, and discrie their force, that others may come after and 
overthrow their camp. 72 

It was not to be long before Knewstubb and Wilkinson accepted the 
challenge laid down by Rogers. 

John Knewstubb, author of A Confutation of Monstrous Heresies taught by 
H.N. (1579) was the most prominent of the three. Bom in Westmorland in 
1544, he went up to Cambridge where he graduated B.A. in 1564, M.A. in 
1568, and finally B.D. in 1576.^^ We see, therefore, that Knewstubb was at 
Cambridge at the same time that Rogers was at Oxford. 



Knewstubb' s Confutation is a longwinded and involved theo logical polemic in 
which he takes various of H.N.'s doctrines and refutes them with the same 
passages with which Niclaes had supported them. The theological intricacies do 
not overly concem us here. There are, however, several significant aspects of 
Knewstubb' s attack. First is his identification of the Family of Love with "the 
Papists, Anabaptists, [and] Libertines ... for as much as they will have the word 
subject to their spirite." ''^ The sins of England are so great that God has sent not 
only Papists as a judgment, but also Arians, Anabaptists, and the Family of Love. 
Though the Papists profess to hate the Family, they do not suppress it, for they 
have a great deal in common with it.^^ Though the Family is not Protestant, 
Protestants must share the blame for it, for they have not combatted in fiercely 
enough.^^ In order to better combat such enemies, Knewstubb claims, the true 
church may no longer be satisfied with extemal conformity only. Those who 



154 / Renaissance and Reformation 

submit to the Church outwardly while secretly maintaining another faith are 
the greatest enemy and must therefore be brutally dealt with according to the 
Scriptural injunction of Deuteronomy 14,^^ 

William Wilkinson, author of A Confutation of Certaine Articles delivered 
unto the Family of Love (1579) was a contemporary of John Knewstubb at 
Cambridge. He matriculated a sizar of Queen's College in 1568, and gradu- 
ated B.A. in 1572, M.A. in 1575, and B.D. in 1582.^^ 

Wilkinson's book is the longest of the three, and also the least organized, 
consisting in large part of sections culled from other sources and contributions 
from others. The core of the work is "Articles which I exhibited unto a frend 
of mine, to be conuaied unto the Familie of loue, that I might be certified of 
the doubts in them contayned. Which for my further instruction one The- 
ophilus sent me a letter, and an exhortation, in the following manner." It 
appears that somehow Wilkinson was able to contact some members of the 
Family of Love and confront them with his charges. 

Even more strongly than Knewstubb and Rogers, Wilkinson affirms that 
the Family of Love is a type of Anabaptist sect. In Rogers' work, we had the 
affirmation that H.N. was a disciple of David Joris, and Batman emphasized 
that England must suppress the Family or suffer the fate of Munster. Wilkin- 
son, however, states the relationship quite boldly: "Therefore are they [the 
Family of Love] Anabaptists and David Georges Schollers."^^ Indeed, sprin- 
kled liberally throughout the text are references to Heinrich Bullinger, that 
Swiss scourge of Anabaptists. The clear implication is that the Family of Love 
are really Anabaptists and should be dealt with according to the same rules. 
As if to hammer the point home, Wilkinson includes "Certaine profitable 
notes to know an Hérétique, especially an Anabaptist. With the opinions, the 
behaviour of them out of various authors." Chief among the "various Au- 
thors" is Bullinger himself, but Calvin and Zwingli are also liberally ex- 
cerpted. The idea, of course, is to "know your enemy," and who better to 
perform this task than three pre-eminent continental theologians, all of whom 
had had extensive dealings with and struggles against Anabaptists. 

Lest we think, however, that identification of the Family of Love with the 
Anabaptists exonerates them from charges of Popery, it must be stated that 
to many Protestants, Anabaptism and Rome were working hand in hand. In 
Wilkinson's paraphrase of Bullinger: "Anabaptists were hartned by those 
which desired the overthrow of the Gospell and the restoring of Popery."^^ 



Renaissance et Réforme / 155 

VI 

One certainly hesitates to use a term as overworked and misunderstood as 
"puritan." Yet, so long as the term is carefully defined and used, we shall see 
that it does indeed apply to Knewstubb, Rogers, and Wilkinson, and further- 
more, that their puritanism was an important factor in their attacks on the 
Family of Love. 

In its most basic definition, the term "puritan" denotes one who believed 
that the Church of England was "but halfly reformed," retaining as it did 
popish vestiges in doctrine, practice, and government that denied it the status 
of a truly "Reformed" church. ^^ This basic definition, however, needs to be 
refined somewhat, for if we define "puritan" as those who wished to see the 
English church further reformed, we would have to include almost all of the 
church leadership in the early years of Elizabeth's reign. If we are to make 
this our definition of "puritan," we shall have to include such widely divergent 
characters as the cautious, conservative reformers Grindal, Sandys, and Cox, 
firebrands such as Cartwright, Sampson, and Humphrey, and out-and-out 
rabble-rousers such as John Field, Thomas Wilcox (authors of the Admonition 
to Parliament) in the same category. We obviously need finer categories of 
analysis if we are to understand Elizabethan religion and politics and to tie 
the attack on the Family of Love into a general context. 

In essence, there were almost as many kinds of Protestantism as there were 
Protestants. For the sake of analysis, however, it is possible to define several 
broad categories. In the first place there were cautious, conservative reform- 
ers, such as most of the first Elizabethan bishops, with the notable exception 
of Matthew Parker, Elizabeth's first Archbishop of Canterbury. Drawn almost 
exclusively from the ranks of returned Marian exiles, this includes such 
prominent figures as Edmund Grindal, Edwin Sandys, and Richard Cox. In 
general, these men, while not entirely satisfied with the Elizabethan settle- 
ment, recognized that a Protestant Queen, even if not as Protestant as they 
would have liked, was infinitely preferable to the more plausible alternatives: 
civil religious war, or foreign invasion and the restora tion of the Roman 
Church. They hoped to further reform the church by slow increments, gently 
nudging the Queen in the right direction. This indeed was their reason for 
accepting positions of leadership in the church when many of their "hotter" 
Protestant colleagues urged them not to have anything to do with a semi- 
papistical church. At the time, of course, they had no way of knowing that the 
settlement of 1559 was to be permanent, and their chances of success must 
have seemed very high indeed. 



156 / Renaissance and Reformation 

At the other extreme were radical preachers, especially in London and East 
Anglia, who were very outspoken about Popish remnants in the church. In 
this category we would include the radical Londoners Field and Wilcox, 
Wibume, Anthony Gilby, and Robert Fitz. It was, in fact, to puritans of this 
stripe that the name was first applied in the vestiarian controversies of the 
1560's. 

Somewhere between these two extremes, one suspects, were the majority 
of educated, articulate, and Protestant Englishmen. If they were dissatisfied 
with the pace of reform in the 1560' s and 70' s, neither were they able to 
condone the radical nonconformity, and ultimately the separatism, of 
"London's Protestant Underworld. "^^ 

It should be emphasized, however, that the situation was extremely fluid. 
There were no party lines, only floating coalitions which coalesced and 
disbanded as circumstances dictated. As Elizabeth moved the church more in 
her own direction under Archbishop Whitgift in the 1580's and 90's, the 
situation became less fluid and puritan opposition more cohesive. However, 
in the 1560' s and 70' s, the situation remained fluid and the "puritans" 
remained within the embrace of the Church of England. 

It should also be emphasized that underneath such seemingly divisive 
questions as the vestiarian controversy, the form of church government, and 
the "prophesyings" or "exercises," there was substantial agreement on the 
essentials of faith: the doctrines of justification by faith, and the Eucharistie 
question, the single most burning doctrinal issue of the time. Though the 
Queen herself was probably more inclined to a Lutheran view, it is significant 
that the question of Real Presence versus Memorial Supper was very rarely 
a bone of contention. Virtually the entire church was united behind the 
Swiss/German view.^^ 

One of the things which stands out when we look at the three authors who 
initiated the attack on the Family of Love is that not only were they all 
university men (Knewstubb and Wilkinson at Cambridge, Rogers at Oxford) 
but they were also almost exact contemporaries. Knewstubb graduated B.A. 
in 1564, Rogers in 1569 and Wilkinson in 1568. That these three men, similar 
in age, background, education, and religious conviction all undertook to 
attack the Family of Love within two years of each other is no accident. 
Rather, it was the result of their education, the way they had been taught to 
view the world, especially the reUgious situation and the church. To under- 
stand these men and their writings, we must go back to their days at university, 
when their ideals and convictions were formed. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 157 

Cambridge University, of course, had acquired a reputation as a hotbed of 
Protestantism as early as the 1520' s and the meetings in the White Horse Inn. 
From William Tyndale on through Cranmer and Ridley, the University had 
provided English Protestants with models, heroes, and martyrs. Under Ed- 
ward, Cambridge was much more the royally favoured university. And it was 
under Edward and his Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, that the 
man who, more than anyone else influenced the next generation of English 
churchmen came to England. This man was Martin Bucer. 

Bucer arrived in England in the spring of 1549 at Archbishop Cranmer's 
invitation and was shortly appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Cam- 
bridge. Though only at Cambridge a short time (he was to die in 1551) and 
ill much of the time he was there, he left a lasting impression. His influence 
was to be felt for generations. Among those who sat at his feet were a number 
of future bishops: Grindal, Sandys, Parker, and Pilkington. Thus we can see 
that Bucer' s influence survived in a direct way, affecting church and state 
under Elizabeth. Grindal especially was a favourite of the reformer, and Bucer 
was the dominant influence in the life and thinking of the future Archbishop 
of Canterbury.^"* Besides these luminaries, hundreds of other subsequently 
prominent leaders must have Ustened to and been taught by Bucer. According 
to contemporary observers, one never forgot having been taught by Martin 
Bucer. ^^ 

Bucer enjoys a deserved reputation as one of the more tolerant and eirenic 
of the reformers, working ceaselessy for concord among Protestants. Yet 
there were limits to his tolerance. For all his efforts at concord, he would not 
compromise on the core of his faith, on justification by faith, for instance.^ 
Diversity of practice was also not to be tolerated. Granted he was fairly 
indulgent when it came to drawing the line, and his view of adiaphora was 
especially generous. But diversity of essential religious practice was some- 
thing not to be tolerated. This is based on his view of the essential unity of 
church and state, or rather, their symbiosis, as a societas christianaP His 
concern for the essential unity of church and state is reflected in his attitude 
towards the Anabaptists. His arguments condemned not so much their denial 
of infant baptism as their tendency to withdrawal and separation, thus rending 
the unity of the Christian community. He urged stringent measure against the 
Anabaptists in Strasbourg during the Peasants' Revolt and had Carlstadt 
expelled from the city.^^ As an advisor to Philip of Hesse, he suppressed 
Anabaptism there.^^ At the Smalkald Conference, he took the lead in drafting 
a petition to suppress various Anabaptists and Separatists.^ Though more 
inclined to persuade than to bum, he nevertheless was not above using 



158 / Renaissance and Reformation 

physical force when he deemed it necessary.^ ^ This then was the dominant 
intellectual and theological influence at Cambridge for years afterward, and 
it could not have helped but to shape Elizabethan religious politics, both 
directly through men such as Grindal and Sandys, and indirectly through the 
lasting impression which Bucer left on the University. 

Cambridge in the 1560' s must surely have been an exciting place for a 
young man. Not only was there a new regime which would further pursue the 
reformation begun under Edward (or so they thought), they were to be the 
leaders of it. The early 1560' s saw a considerable increase in the university 
population.^^ By a statute of 1559, the regents were given considerable author 
ity within the university by virtue of their control of the Senate.^^ That these 
young dons should incline more to the puritan side is not surprising, since 
there was certainly a intergenerational component to the religious conflicts 
of the day. 

Cambridge was consistently on the cutting edge of puritanism in the early 
years of Elizabeth's reign, from Fulke's denunciation of clerical vestments 
to Cartwright's more serious opposition to episcopacy, leading eventually to 
his being deprived of his chair and a self-imposed exile in Geneva, as well as 
to a revision of the statutes of the university, placing effective authority in the 
hands of the Vice-Chancellor and the Heads of Colleges.^"^ 

Nevertheless, it is easy to exaggerate the divisiveness of these conflicts. 
There were many, for example, who supported Cartwright not out of sympa- 
thy for his religious convictions, but to protect the ancient liberties of the 
university. In large part, the whole affair smacks of academic intrigue and 
factional politics. In many ways, this controversy resembles the row over 
Greek pronunciation in the 1530s, with its mixture of personal, factional, 
academic and political motives, rather that a life and death struggle over the 
future of the church.^^ Only in rare cases, when someone proved as outspoken 
and intractable as Cartwright were such severe measures taken. 

The prominence of Cantabrigian puritans has sometimes obscured the 
significant if numerically smaller Puritan movement at Oxford. In the several 
years following Elizabeth's accession, staunchly Cathohc Oxford was grad- 
ually purged and Protestants put into positions of authority. Most notably, the 
Earl of Leicester was appointed Chancellor in 1564 and took an active role 
in the university's administration.^^ 

There was also the influence of the Italian reformer Peter Martyr Vermigli, 
who, like Bucer had been invited to England by Craimier after the death of 
Henry VIII. Indeed, as Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, Martyr was 
Bucer' s direct counterpart, though the Italian seemingly had a much harder 



Renaissance et Réforme / 159 

row to hoe, consistently coming up against Oxford's Catholic and conserva- 
tive prejudices.^^ 

Reformed influences were also brought to Oxford by the presence of 
numerous foreign Protestant students particularly from Switzerland. Swiss 
presence at Oxford began in the 1530s when Rodolph Gualter, BuUinger's 
foster son and later his son-in-law, paid a short visit. Under Edward, there 
was a virtual exchange program between Oxford and Zurich. Among the 
Swiss who studied at Oxford were John ab Ulmis, John Stumphius, and 
Thomas Blaurer. The briefest glance at the Zurich Letters confirms the lasting 
friendships and enduring influences formed by both sides.^^ 

The crucial point is that even though Oxford has justly acquired the label 
"Catholic," puritan influences were not lacking. Continental reformed theol- 
ogy was brought to the university through Peter Martyr, foreign students and 
the influence of Zurich, and later on through Elizabeth's purge of the univer- 
sity. And those puritans which Oxford did produce tended to be of a more 
radical stripe, "brought up, it may be, in a harsher school:" Field and Wilcox 
were both Oxonians. ^^ Thus, John Rogers could very likely have been 
exposed to continental theology and puritan influences during his time at 
Oxford. 

Not knowing very much about John Rogers, we must extrapolate from his 
writings to gain any idea of his religious convictions. Throughout his Dis- 
playing he uses many concepts and phrases which would seem to put him on 
the side of the "hotter" Protestants. There is his constant castigation of the 
Roman Church. Granted, this was commonplace, but his continued repetition 
of the charges against the Papists would lead one to believe that there is more 
to it than literary fashion. There is also his black and white view of the 
religious situation. Not for him were Parker's "mediocrity" or an Elizabethan 
via media: 

with the bloudie Papistes with their fire and fagot, continual warre, with 
horrible murders on the one side, and the Anabaptistes, Free will men, 
Arrians, Pelagians, and the Famelie of Loue on the other side, Christes 
Church hath little rest, and small favour in the sight of man, but spumed on 
euery side. ^^ 

Besides the Displaying and the subsequent Answere unto a wicked libel 
made by Christ. Vitel, one of the Chief English elders of the pretended Family 
of Love (London: 1578), the STC attributes only one other work to our John 
Rogers. This is The Summe of Christianity . . . (1578). As its title suggests, this 
is a sort of primer in the basics of Christian theology. Its very existence 



160 / Renaissance and Reformation 

suggests that Rogers was more inclined to the "hotter" Protestants. It implies 
that the Prayer Book is not enough, that it needs a "briefe and plaine" 
supplement. In particular, Rogers' emphasis on the ultimate authority of 
Scripture, on preaching and discipline, and on a godly life, would seem to put 
him on the puritan side of things.'^ It is not a question of theology: anyone 
but a Catholic would have to agree with his theological assertions. Rather, it 
is a question, and the judgment is admittedly subjective and speculative, of 
tendency and emphasis. There is only one clear reference to the religious 
controversies of the day: This would seem to be a reference to the vestiarian 
problems the question of "lawful" versus "offensive" was at the heart of 
religious debate. 

John Knewstubb was what we might call a radically-tinged moderate. No 
friend of vestments and square caps, in his days at Cambridge he had 
petitioned in favour of Cartwright.^^^ He had also taken part in "prophesy- 
ings" or conferences of ministers designed to elicit the true meaning of 
Scripture and instruct unlearned clergy. ^^^ It was Grindal's refusal to suppress 
the prophesyings, and worse yet, his attempt to justify his disobedience to 
Elizabeth herself, which led to his fall from favour. Yet for Knewstubb, there 
was no question of separation. The conclusive, damning evidence of the 
falseness of Arians, Anabaptists, and others was that they removed them- 
selves from the church. ^^ The question was not one of whether there ought 
to be an authoritative church coterminous with the nation, but rather, what 
form that church ought to take. Viewing Knewstubb' s career in retrospect, 
one might think that he would have been anathema to authorities. He was after 
all one of the leaders of the crypto-Presbyterian Dedham conference in the 
1580's, the leading puritan preacher in Suffolk, and took the nonconforming 
side in 1604 at Hampton Court. *^^ Not the sort of man we would expect 
Elizabeth or her Council, which had to answer to her, to entrust with much 
responsibility. Yet we find him preaching at Paul's Cross on Good Friday, 
presented to the living of Cockfield in Sussex, and, most relevant for out 
purposes, the Privy Council, at the height of the Familist "scare" in early 158 1 
(1580 O.S.), appointed him as a sort of consultant to the bishops in the 
repression of the Family of Love.*^ 

That William Wilkinson, like Knewstubb and Rogers, was a puritan, is 
evident not only from his Confutation, wherein he made prodigious use of 
BuUinger and other Reformed theologians, but also from his other writings. 
In 1580, while residing in London, he published A very godly and learned 
treatise of the exercise of Fastyng, described out of the word of God, very 
necessarye to bee applyed unto our churches in England in these perillous 



Renaissance et Réforme / 161 

times. Again, as with Knewstubb, one notices that even though one would 
place him in the "puritan opposition," this did not prevent him from advancing 
his career within the Church of England. In 1588, though a layman, he became 
prebend of Fridaythorpe in York Cathedral, which post he was to hold until 
his death in 1613. Thus, again we see that even though on some issues he and 
the "Anglicans" were on opposite sides, this did not hinder his preferment 
within the church, nor did this opposition prevent the sides from cooperating 
on the really important issues: the Catholic threat, and sectarianism, the 
threats from right and left, as it were. 

It is apparent that it was Englishmen more inclined to the puritan side in 
religious controversy who took the lead in the attack on the Family of Love. 
This fact is underlined very nicely by an episode in Parliament. ^^^ On 
February 15, 1581 a bill for the suppression of the Family of Love was brought 
in by "divers preachers . . . commended . . . from the Convocation." Subse- 
quently, the bill seems to have been lost in the shuffle and presumably died 
at the committee stage. 

What is interesting about this episode is the committee members responsi- 
ble for the bill. Most of those whom we can identify are of pronounced puritan 
leanings, supporters of one or more of the great "puritan" issues of the day: 
the fate of Mary Queen of Scots, increased penalties for recusant CathoUcs, 
a more aggressively Protestant foreign policy, including concrete aid to the 
Dutch rebels and French Huguenots, and, of course, further purification of 
the Church, which for some meant its presbyterianization. One of the com- 
mittee members, Sir Thomas Scott, had supported a bill to enforce the Act of 
Uniformity against Catholics only, leaving puritan ministers free to vary the 
Prayer Book as they wished. He was a chief enemy of Mary Stuart and 
consistently urged her execution. ^^^ Another, the diplomat Sir Henry Killi- 
grew, was in league with Leicester and Walsingham in urging a more 
aggressively Protestant foreign policy on the Queen. ^^^ A third, Robert Beal, 
Clerk of the Privy Council, was chosen to carry Mary's death warrant to 
Fotheringay.^*^ Thomas Norton, Cranmer's son-in-law and translator of 
Calwin' s Institutes, was a consistent advocate of Mary's execution and a keen 
supporter of the anti-Catholic bill of 1581.'^^ Edward Lewkenor was con- 
stantly in trouble for his anti-episcopal views and landed in the Tower in 
1586.^^^ There was also Sir William More, the same More who twenty years 
earlier had taken Chaundeler and Sterete's confession, indicating a continued 
interest in the Family of Love. 

Thus far, we have seen that it was the "hotter" Protestants who initiated the 
attack on the Family of Love. Even so, this was an issue on which everyone 



162 / Renaissance and Reformation 

could agree. Puritans and their erstwhile "enemies" in the official church 
establishment cooperated wonderfully in this arena. As we have seen. Bishop 
Cox of Ely hunted the Family of Love in his diocese. Among those who aided 
him in his questioning of the villagers at Wisbech was the same William Fulke 
who had stirred up so much trouble at Cambridge over clerical vestments. On 
the other hand, Andrew Feme, who had conducted the earlier investigation, 
could hardly be considered a puritan. He had conformed under Edward, Mary, 
and Elizabeth. As Master of Peterhouse, he had taken the official side in the 
vestment troubles at Cambridge. Under Mary he testified against Bucer at his 
posthumous trial for heresy. Under Elizabeth, he participated in his rehabili- 
tation. All of which gave rise to the derogatory term "Pemecoat."^'^ Yet on 
the Family of Love, he was foursquare in agreement with his puritan "ene- 
mies." The point is that underneath the seeming division, underneath the 
vestments controversy, Cartwright, and the prophesyings, there lay a solid 
bedrock on consensus: separatists and sectarians must not be tolerated and 
must be made to conform. Even the Queen herself shared this opinion, as 
witnessed by her Proclamation, despite her "not wanting to make windows 
into men's souls." 

This underlying consensus was the result of a number of causes. Everyone, 
puritans included, agreed that church and state were inseparable and cotermi- 
nous. There was no question of separate and comf)eting churches. Here is the 
influence of Bucer and continental theology which coincided very nicely with 
the requirements of Tudor monarchs. There was also substantial agreement 
on the Eucharist, though puritans were very sensitive to anything which might 
imply worship of the host. Puritans also recognized that a "halfly reformed" 
church was better than one not reformed at all. If the English church was not 
yet what it should be, neither was it what in once had been. For the vast 
majority (as yet) there was no question of separation: the only church they 
could envision was a church of England. 

One is struck by the pro forma character of the attacks on the Family of 
Love. Again here, we see the influence on continental theologians. Despite 
the bitter disputes between Wittenberg, Zurich, and Geneva, one aspect was 
common to all: enmity towards and persecution of Anabaptists and sectarians. 
They were anathema precisely because their beliefs meant the end of 
coterminous church and state, a societas Christiana. On the Anabaptists, there 
was solid agreement about ends, if not about means. One almost gets the 
impression that Englishmen felt left out. Having no real indigenous An- 
abaptists to hunt, they came up with a more than adequate replacement in the 
Family of Love. To be more precise, there was a small group of ambitious 



Renaissance et Réforme / 163 

Englishmen who werç looking for a target to attack. Remember that 
Knewstubb, Rogers, and Wilkinson were all relatively young men (perhaps 
in their early thirties) when they wrote their anti-Family works, Their careers 
were really just starting. What better way to cut one's teeth than to write in a 
tried and true genre graced by such illustrious names as Zwingli, Calvin, and 
especially Bullinger. We have already seen how frequently the Family of 
Love is tied to Anabaptism by its critics. In Patrick Collinson's words, "There 
is ample evidence of a kind of informal agreement prevailing in many quarters 
that 'civil wars of the Church of God' would be abandoned in favour of an 
affirmation of those things in which all protestants assented, against papists, 
against such sectarian threats as the Family of Love. ... "^^^ 

There remains one large question to be answered: Why just then? Why did 
the attack on the Family of Love begin and reach its peak in the late 1570's 
and early 1580's? As we have seen, the standard historical answer will not 
do, that the Family of Love was attracting new members and constituted a 
real threat. The answer lies elsewhere. 

The late 1570's represented something of a hiatus in the tensions within 
the church. In the past were the vestiarian controversies, Cartwright, and the 
Admonition to Parliament. The puritans had a sympathetic Archbishop of 
Canterbury in Edmund Grindal, whose great troubles still lay in the future, 
and whose primacy held high hopes for the godly. ^'^ To a large extent this 
represents consolidation in the face of a common threat: resurgent post- 
Tridentine Catholicism and native recusancy. Here again is part of the 
bedrock of agreement. However objectionable some of the Queen's policies 
might be to the godly, she was, after all, a Protestant. A Protestant Queen, 
even if slow to purify the church of Popish vestiges, was infinitely preferable 
to a Catholic monarch and a restoration of the Roman Church. The year 1571 
had seen the victory of Lepanto and Spanish dominance in the Mediterranean, 
1572 the St. Bartholomew's Massacre, and 1578 the victories of Don John in 
the Netherlands. On every side Protestant Europe, and especially England, 
seemed threatened. The King of Spain's "English Enterprise" was thought to 
be imminent. In 1579 a Papal force had landed in Ireland and was soon 
reinforced from Spain. In 1580 the English Jesuits Edmund Campion and 
Robert Parsons arrived to bring succour to English CathoUcs. In addition the 
Queen had hinted once again that she was open to the matrimonial overtures 
of the Duke d'Alencon, the French King's brother. Then there was the 
perennial trouble spot of the Queen of Scots, a rallying point for EngUsh 
Catholics while she lived. It was a time indeed in which Laurence Humphrey 
could write to Switzerland: 



164 / Renaissance and Reformation 

These are the signs preceding the end of the world. . . . Satan is roaring like 
a lion, the world is going mad, antichrist is resorting to every extreme, that 
he may with wolf-like ferocity devour the sheep of Christ.' '^ 

That the Family of Love should be the object of suspicion then is no 
surprise. There was, as we have seen, lingering suspicion of the Family of 
Love as crypto-Catholics, a Popish fifth column ready to revolt at any time. 
On a deeper level, there was the feeling that now more than ever concord and 
unity were essential. Wrote John Rogers: 

How the wicked take occasion by these and like errours [the Family of Love], 
to speake euil of Christs Church, the eares of many godly doe heare. 
Especially the Papists: who speak and write, and nothing heard more 
common in the mouths, then these tearmes, ye are at variaunce amongst your 
selves: no unitie of doctrine is observed: ye are of divers opinions and 
sectes. 



117 



If euer there were disturbers of the Church ... I thinke that now is the time: 
For what with the bloudie Papistes with their fire and fagot, continuall warre, 
with horrible murders on one side, and the Anabaptistes, Freewill men, 
Arrians, Pelagians, and the Familie of Loue on the other side, Christes 
Church hath little rest, and small favour in the sight of man, but spumed on 
euery side.''* 

This indeed is a theme which, if not always explicitly stated, was certainly 
always in the background. Now was not the time to engage in "civil wars of 
the Church of God;" now was the time to combat the Catholic threat and the 
best way to do that was to make sure your own house was in order and to 
display strength and unity, not division and dissension. This concern was 
fundamental to all Protestant Englishmen. That puritans took the lead in 
attacking the Family of Love is perhaps attributable to their greater sensitivity 
to the Roman threat and to their greater emphasis on a completely godly life 
as opposed to formal religious practice. Though they led the way, all joined 
in, attacking a threat which never really existed. That the attack was pursued 
with such gusto is perhaps attributable to those things which "puritans" and 
"Anglicans" had in common, especially their belief in an authoritative na- 
tional church. It was only natural then that they should concentrate on those 
areas and issues in which they were in substantial agreement and leave the 
others to sort themselves out later. 

There was also a careerist aspect to the origins of the attack on the Family 
of Love.^'^ It is surely significant that our three authors were all roughly the 



I 



Renaissance et Réforme / 165 

same age: in the late 1570's they were just coming into their official maturity. 
John Rogers' three works were all printed within two years of each other. All 
of John Knewstubb's writings were published during an eight year period in 
the late 70's and early 80's. For the rest of his long career, he did not publish 
another thing. William Wilkinson's other major book was published in 1580, 
one year after his Confutation. The fact that these men's offical careers were 
just starting, that they were looking for some issue with which to make their 
mark, when the Family of Love presented itself as a target, and when 
conditions within England and the church were most conducive to such an 
attack, only served to intensify the campaign against the Family of Love. 

The Family of Love in England was unimportant and insignificant in the 
grand scheme of things. However, for the reasons outlined above, it provoked 
a response out of all proportion to any threat it presented. This vehement 
attack has magnified the marginal significance of the Family of Love in 
England beyond recognition. This has been transmitted to the present through 
historical writings which were more concerned with making an ideological 
or genealogical point than with establishing the real historical significance of 
the Family of Love. By a critical evaluation of sources, it has been established 
that the standard view of the Family's history in England is a vastly distorted 
version of the truth. The only reason it has become a subject of research at all 
is because a peculiar conjunction circumstances led certain Englishmen to 
attack it in a certain way. The Family of Love, and the attack on it, are a mirror 
in which we see reflected the concerns and attitudes of Elizabethan England.* 

University of Calgary 

Notes 

* The research for this article was originally undertaken for an M. A. thesis at the University 
of British Columbia under the supervision of Professor C. R. Friedrichs and Professor 
M. Tolmie. I am also grateful to Professor L. Knafla of the University of Calgary for his 
advice and assistance. 

1. P.L. Hughes, J.F. Larkin, Tudor Royal Proclamations (New Haven: Yale University 
Pr€ss,l%9), 11,474-75. 

2. Accounts of Niclaes' life are numerous. The information here was taken largely 
from the following sources: Friedrich Nippold, "Heinrich Niclaes und das Haus der 
Liebe," Zeitschrift fur die historische Théologie, XXXII (1862); Charlotte Fell- 
Smith, "Henry Niclas," Dictionary of National Biography, XIV, 427-31. Jean 
Dietz Moss, "The Family of Love in England," Diss., West Virginia, 1969; Alastair 
Hamilton,7/je Family of Love (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1981); F. Loofs, 
"Familisten," Realencyclopadie fur protestantische Théologie, V, 750-55; L. 
Knappert, "Hendrik Niclaes," Nieuw N ederlandsche Biografisch Woordenboek, V, 



166 / Renaissance and Reformation 

cols., 367-70; H. de la Fontaine- Verwey, "The Family of Love," Quarendo, VI 
(1976), pp. 219-271. 

3. Hamilton, pp. 6-12. 

4. Vitell described by both Rogers and Wilkinson as the Family's chief elder in England, 
first appears on the scene in 1555. Wilkinson includes in his Confutation the account 
of one Henry Crinell (or Orinell) recounting Vitell's heretical views as expressed in 
that year in Colchester. However, neither H.N. nor the Family of Love are mentioned 
and it seems that Vitell became a follower of H.N. at some later date. (W. Wilkinson, 
Confutation, preface, iiii-Al.) 

5. The fortunes of the Family of Love on the Continent were somewhat different. One 
of its most interesting aspects is Niclaes' connection with the great Antwerp printer 
Christopher Plantin and his humanist circle of friends and associates including the 
geographer Ortelius, Justus Lipsius, the Hebraicist Andreus Masius, Benito Arias 
Montano, and quite possibly Guillaume Postel and Guy Le Fevre de la Boderie. 
There was rift in the sect in 1573 in which Plantin and his circle deserted Niclaes 
for his erstwhile disciple Hendrik Jansen van Barrefeld, known as Hiel, or "the life 
of God." On this aspect of the Family of Love, see Max Rooses, Christophe Plantin, 
Imprimeur anversois (Antwerp: Buschman, 1897), pp. 59-76; H. de la Fontaine- 
Verwey, Quarendo, pp. 230-43; Hamilton, pp. 70-78; Bernard Rekers, Benito 
Arias Montano (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1972), pp. 70-1 14. 

6. For the full text of the confession, see Moss, "'Godded with God': Hendrik Niclaes 
and His Family of Love," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 7 1 , part 
8(1981), pp. 70-74. 

7. Moss, APS, p. 74. 

8. J.W. Martin, "English Familists and other Separatists in the Guildford Area," Bulletin 
of the Institute for Historical Research, 5\ (May, 1978), p. 9L 

9. Moss, y4/>S, p. 74. 

1 0. See above pp. 6-1 0. Chaundeler stated that his wife was "fetched out of the Isle of Ely 
by two of the congregation." Chaundeler and his bride, however, apparently did not 
take to each other. This disgruntlement in itself ought to make us wary of accepting all 
of Chaundeler's statement at face value. (Moss, APS, p. 72.) 

11. Moss, A/»S, p. 70. 

12. Martin, BIHR. 

13. Martin, fi////?, p. 91. 

14. Hamilton, p. 118; John Rogers, An Answere unto a wicked libel made by Christ. Vitel, 
one of the chief English elders of the pretended Family of Love (London: 1578), fols, 
K1-K2. 

15. Hamilton, p. 119. 

16. Acts of the Privy Council, vol. 10, p. 332. 

17. APC,vo\. 12, p. 231. 

18. APC,\o\. 12, p. 232. 

19. APCvol. 12, p. 269. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 167 

20. "The confesion of sele ely and mathew/beinge of the famely of Love &/of her maisties 
gard/ They must be deyfyed in god & god in them/[T]he Jugement & resurexion is past 
already/ We are eylewmynated that is to saye of the [?resurexion] & restoryed to the 
parfection that Adam/[?had] before his fale/[Th]e Literall sence of the scrypture they 
do not regard/[What] so ever they do is no syne/[Th]ey ought not to suffer their bodyes 
to be executed bycause/[they are] the temples of the holly gost/[The]y may lawfully 
deny religion of faith before any/[if]ther be any cause of persecusion/[Th]er ought not 
to be any maiestarts amongest crystyans." 

(J. Hitchcock, "A Confession of the Family of Love," BIHR, 43 [1970] ,p. 85.) The 
"sele" and "mathewe" mentioned are obviously Robert and Thomas Mathewe, while 
the "ely" could possibly William Eling of the group accused in 1578. 

2 1 . Felicity Heal, "The Family of Love and the Diocese of Ely," Studies in Church History 
IX: Schism, Heresy, and Religious Protest, ed. Derek Baker (Cambridge, 1972), pp. 
218-19; Moss, APS, p. 28; Hamilton, p. 120. 

22. Moss, APS, p. 28. 

23. Moss, APS, p. 2S. 

24. Hamilton, p. 120. The next day, the Privy Council wrote to Bishop Sandys of London, 
"touching order to be taken with Anabaptists and those of the Family of Love." (APC, 
vol. 8, p. 338.) 

25. Moss, APS, p. 75. A tenth person, Thomas Piersonne, "yeoman and the wealthiest of the 
company, before he was sent for conveyed himself away as it is thought to London. ..." 

26. Heal, p. 220. 

27. Jean Dietz Moss, "Variations on a Theme: The Family of Love in Renaissance 
England," Renaissance Quarterly, XXXI (1978), pp. 189-95. 

28. Moss, APS, p. 81. 

29. Hamilton, pp. 123-24. 

30. Moss APS, p. 80. 

3 1 . The Short-Title Catalogue lists sixteen of H.N.'s works in English. Of these, the most 
important are: 

1. Evangelium Regni. Ein Frolicke Bodeschop vam Ryke. (Antwerp, 1555-62); in 
English, Evangelium Regni. Ajoyfull Message of the Kingdom. 

2. Prophétie des Geistes der Lieften. (Antwerp, 1555- 62); in English, The Prophétie 
of the Spirit of Love. 

3. Den Spiegel der Gherechticheit. (Antwerp, 1562); the entire work was never 
translated into English. Rather, its two introductions were published separately under 
the titles An Introduction to the holy Understanding of the Glasse of Righteousness and 
A Figure of the true and Spiritual Tabernacle according to the inward Temple of the 
House of God in the Spirit. 

4. Exhortatio. De eerste Vormaninge H.N. Tot syne kinderen, unde dem Husgesinne 
der Lieften. (Cologne, 1573); in English, Exhortation I. The first exhortation ofH.N. 
to his Children, and to the Family of Love. 



168 / Renaissance and Reformation 

5. Revelation Dei. De openbaringe Godes, und syne grote Prophétie. (Cologne, 1 573); 
in English, Revelatio Dei. The Reuelation of God, and his great Prophétie: which God 
now; in the last Daye; hath shewed unto his Elect. 

6. Terra Pads. Ware getugnisse van idt geistlich Landtschap des Fredes. (Cologne, 
1580); in English, Terra Pads. A True Testification of the Spirituall Lande of Peace; 
which is the Spirituall Lande ofPromyse, and the holy Citie of Peace or the Heauenly 
lerusalem. 

Only two of H.N. 's works make reference to his followers in England. The first of these 
is "An Epistle sent unto two daughters of Warwick." As Niclaes signed it "your 
unknown friend," it seems unlikely that he knew them personally. (Moss, APS, p. 
16.)The second is "The Epistle of H.N. ... unto the right Reverent Bishops," which 
exists only in manuscript form in Lambeth Palace. (Hamilton, p. 129.) 

32. Julia C. Ebel, "The Family of Love: Sources of Their History in England," Huntington 
Library Quarterly, XXX (1966-67), pp. 335-36. 

33. Moss, APS, p. 76. 

34. An Apology for the Service of Love, and People that own it, commonly called the Family 
of Love, quoted in Hamilton, p. 123. 

35. An Apology, quoted in Moss, Diss., p. 64. 

36. This petition was published in 1606 with hostile notes by a Protestant critic under the 
title A Supplication of the Family of Loue, and again by Samuel Rutherford in his Survey 
of the Spirituall Antichrist (London, 1648). 

37. Rutherford, p. 344. 

38. Rutherford, p. 346. 

39. Rutherford, p. 346. 

40. Rutherford, p. 348. 

41. Rutherford, p. 350. 

42. For further examples of minor and incidental attacks on the Family of Love, drawn 
from Rogers, Knewstubb, and Wilkinson, see William Fulke, A Defense of the 
sincere and true Translations of the holie Scriptures into the English tong ... 
(London, 1583; rpt. Cambridge University Press for the Parker Society, 1843), pp. 
36-37; Thomas Rogers, Catholic Doctrine of the Church of England (London, 
1585; rpt. Cambridge University Press for the Parker Society, 1854), pp. 52, 79, 
280, 320; William Whitaker, A Disputation on Holy Scripture against the Papists, 
especially against Bellarmine and Stapleton, trans, and ed. W. Fitzgerald (London, 
1588; rpt. Cambridge University Press for the Parker Society, 1844), p. 298; Edwin 
Sandys, Sermons, ed. J. Ayre (Cambridge University Press .for the Parker Society, 
1842), p. 130. 

43. Hamilton, p. 135. 

44. For an example of one accused of "Familism" but who cannot be connected to H.N. 
or the Family of Love, see the case of John Etherington (or Hetherington) cited in 
Moss, APS, pp. 55-56. While he exhibited "Familist" characteristics, he is not 
connected to H.N. or the Family of Love and indeed, while he does admit to heresy 
in his younger days, he denies being a member of the Family of Love. (John 



Renaissance et Réforme / 169 

Etherington,y4 brief discovery of the blasphemous doctrine of familisme [London, 
1645], quoted in Hamilton, p. 137.) See also the work of Stephen Denison, 
Etherington's accuser. The White Wolfe; or, a sermon preached at Pauls Crosse 
(London, 1623), pp. 33-34, 38-39, 46. Moss's assertion that "Denison may indeed 
have cornered as seventeenth-century Familist" appears unfounded. (Moss, APS, 
p. 56.) 

45. Hamilton, p. 139. In addition, Calvert printed the first English translations of Hiel, 
H.N.'s schismatic disciple. For an interesting seventeenth-century parallel to the 
Familist "scare," see J.C. Davis, Fear, Myth, and History: The Ranters and the 
Historians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986). Davis argues that the 
authorities' fears of the Ranters were manufactured out of whole cloth, that there 
were, in fact, no Ranters. They were invented because "it was necessary to believe 
that the Ranters existed in order to demonstrate the perceived and potential anarchy 
of de facto religious toleration. ..." The Ranters were "discovered" in 1970 by 
Norman Cohn and A.L. Morton, because it was "necessary to believe that they 
existed, as a movement of indeterminate size, in order to sustain the twin notions 
that the people have persistently attempted to make their own history and that such 
a potential history has been, in essence, the negation of capitalist culture and the 
Protestant ethic, which for three hundred years accompanied it." (pp. 135-36.) I 
would agree that the Family of Love has found its way into modern historiography 
in much the same way, although with some significant differences. There actually 
was a Family of Love, on which the authorities seized, and whose importance they 
greatly magnified; it was not invented, as Davis maintains the Ranters were. 
Neither was the Family of Love as dramatically "discovered." The reasons for the 
recent flowering of Familist studies have little to do with left-wing history, and 
more to do with the notion of a Radical Reformation, hitherto obscured by the 
looming bulk of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin. 

46. Hamilton, pp. 140-41; Moss, APS, p. 69. 

47. John Strype, Annals of the Reformation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1824), n, part 1, 
561-62. 

48. I owe this suggestion to Professor C.R. Friedrichs. 

49. Thomas Fuller, The Church History of Britain, ed. J.S. Brewer (Oxford University 
Press, 1845), IV, 407-12; Strype, H, part 1, 556-64. 

50. See, for example R. Barclay, The Inner Life of the Religious Societies of the Common- 
wealth (London, 1879), pp. 27-32; E. Belfort Bax, Rise and Fall of the Anabaptists 
(London: Allen and Unwin, 1903), pp. 338-383; Ronald A. Knox, Enthusiasm— A 
Chapter in the History of Religion (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1950), pp. 140^1, 
170-72; Champlin Burrage, The Early English Dissenters (Cambridge University 
Press, 1912), pp. 209-215. 

51. Allen C. Thomas, "The Family of Love or the Familists," Haverford College 
Studies, XII (1893), and E.A. Payne, "The Family of Love," The Chronicle, XIV 
(1953). 

52. Rufus Jones, Studies in Mystical Religion (London: Macmillan, 1909), pp. 428^48. 

53. Jones, p. 448 



170 / Renaissance and Reformation 

54. "De Geschriften van Hendrik Niclaes" Het Boek, XXXVI (1942), pp. 161-221; "Trois 
hérésiarques dans les Pays-Bas du XVIe siècle," Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renais- 
sance, XVI (1954), pp. 312-330; "The Family of Love," Quarendo, VI (1976), pp. 
219-71. 

55. De la Fontaine-Verwey, Quarendo, p. 221. 

56. De la Fontaine-Verwey, Quarendo, pp. 259-260. 

57. Moss, Diss., pp. 6-9. 

58. Moss, APS. 

59. Moss, Diss., pp. 23-30. 

60. A. Hamilton, The Family of Love (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1981). 

61. Hamilton, p. 135. 

62. For other recent accounts along the same lines, see J.W. Martin, "Elizabethan Familists 
and English Separatism," Journal of British Studies, 20 (1980), pp. 59-62; , p. 338; 
Jean Dietz Moss, "The Family of Love and English Critics," The Sixteenth Century 
Journal, VI (1975), pp. 41-42, 44. 

63. Joseph Foster, Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714 (Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprint 
Ltd., 1968), III, 1274; Anthony a Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (London, 1691), I, 
156-157. 

64. Displaying, fo\.C%. 

65. Displaying, fol. B4. 
(i(>. Displaying, ïoX.làX. 

67. Displaying, fol. 36. 

68. "If the doctrine of H.N. be a trueth, why is it taught in comers? Why dare none step 
foorth to maintaine the doctrine of H.N. being euerywhere spoken against?" (Display- 
ing, fol. E5.) 

69. "And least the Papists should imagine that H.N. should be a professor of the Gospell, 
I will declare manifest causes to prove that he is a right chicken of the Church of Rome." 
(Displaying, fol. D3.) H.N., declares Rogers, agrees with Rome on the authority of the 
Pope, on the Mass, and on the efficacy of works. In the matter of confession, he exceeds 
even the Catholics, "for where the Pope requireth but a confession of [the acte?] 
committed, H.N. requireth a declaration of the thought." {Displaying, fol. D3.) 

70. Displaying, fol. C3. 

71. Ibid. 

72. Displaying, fol. H5. 

73. J.B. Mullinger, "John Knewstubb," DNB, vol. 11, p. 224; J. and J.A. Venn, Alumni 
Cantabrigensis (Cambridge University Press, 1922). 

74. Knewstubb, fol. R4. 

75. Knewstubb, Dedication to the Reader, p. 2. 

76. Knewstubb, Dedication to the Reader, p. 3 

77. Knewstubb, Dedication to the Earl of Warwick, pp. 2-3, 8. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 171 

78. E.I. Carlyle, "William Wilkinson," DNB, vol. 21, p. 278; Venn and Venn, Alumni 
Cantabrigensis, pt. 1, vol. 4, p. 412. 

79. Wilkinson, fol. Jl. 

80. Wilkinson, fol. X2. 

81. Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (Berkeley and Los Angeles: 
University of California Press, 1967), pp. 11-15. There is, of course, an enormous 
historiographical literature surrounding the term "puritan." Most of this literature 
surrounds the importance (or lack thereof) of puritanism in understanding the Civil 
War. Michael Finlayson, (Historians, Puritanism, and the English Revolution: the 
Religious Factor in English Politics before and after the Interregnum [Toronto: 
University of Toronto Press, 1983]) for example, points out that in fact the 
importance of puritans and puritanism in the build-up to the Civil War has been 
vastly overstated, in that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to identify as puritan 
any of leading figures of the political oppostion between 1621 and 1641 (p. 161). 
Nevertheless, Finlayson does agree that there were puritans (pp. 11, 85, 160- 61); 
he simply disputes the idea that they played a crucial role in the conflict between 
Crown and Parliament. There is thus no fundamental disagreement between his 
viewpoint and mine. Indeed, I see a good deal of congruity, inasmuch as he stresses 
the importance of anti-Catholicism for both "Anglicans" and "puritans" (pp. 118, 
162), a factor which played an important role in the authorities' understanding of 
the Family of Love. If, in what I follows, I use expressions such as the puritan 
"side," this should in no way be taken to imply the existence of a party, or of a 
cohesive opposition within the church. Indeed, the foundation on which much of 
my argument rests is that the divisions within the church were much less important 
than what united "puritans" and "Anglicans." 

82. The phrase is Collinson's. (EPM, pp. 84-91.) 

83. Patrick Collinson, Archbishop Grindal (London: Jonathan Cape, 1979), pp. 42—46. 

84. Collinson, Grindal, pp. 49-56. 

85. Collinson, Grindal, p. 49. 

86. Hastings Eells, Martin Bucer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1931), p. 394. 

87. Collinson, Grindal, pp. 52-53. 

88. Eells,pp. 54-64, 71. 

89. Eells, pp. 238-40. 

90. Eells, pp. 267-68. 

91. Eells, p. 64. 

92. H.C. Porter, Reformation and Reaction in Tudor Cambridge (Cambridge University 
Press, 1958), pp. 107-9. 

93. Porter, pp. 163-64. 

94. Porter, p. 176. 

95. See W.S. Hudson, The Cambridge Connection (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 
1980), pp. 43-60; Mullinger, Cambridge, II, 53-64. 



172 / Renaissance and Reformation 

96. Collinson, EPM, p. 129; Mark H. Curtis, Oxford and Cambridge in Transition (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1959), pp. 191-193; CE. Mallet, A History of the University of 
Oxford (London: Methuen, 1924), II, 1 15. 

97. Clare Cross, "Continental Students and the Protestant Reformation in England in the 
Sixteenth Century," Reform and Reformation: England and the Continent c.l500-c.l750, 
ed. Derek Baker (Oxford: Basil Blackwell for the Ecclesiastical History Society, 1979), pp. 
44-^5. 

98. Collinson, EPM, p. 129. 

99. John Rogers, Displaying, fol. F7. 

1 00. John Rogers, The Summe of Christianity, reduced unto eight propositions, briefly and 
plainly confirmed out of the holy worde of God (London, 1578), pp. 10-12, 19-23. 

101. Summe, p. 19. 

102. Porter, p. 190. 

103. Collinson, EPM, pp. 126, 215. 

104. Knewstubb, Confutation, dedication to the reader, ii. 

105. Collinson, EPM, pp. 218-19, 232; J.B. MuUinger, "John Knewstubb," DNB, vol. 11, 
p. 244. 

106. Acts of the Privy Council, vol. 12, pp. 317-318. 

107. House of Commons Journals, I, 127, 128, 129, 130. 

108. M.M. Knappen, Tudor Puritanism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939), p. 
234; Sir J.E. Neale, Elizabeth and her Parliaments (New York: St. Martin's Press, 
1958), I, 250. 

109. Knappen, p. 249; Collinson, EPM, p. 166. 

1 10. Neale, I, 342. 

111. Collinson, EPM, pp. 216-17; Neale, I, 252-53, 385-87. 

1 12. Collinson, EPM, pp. 306-7. 

1 13. MuUinger, Cambridge, II, 180-82; Porter, p. 177. 

1 14. Collinson, Grindal, p. 287. 

115. Collinson EPM, pp. 154-55, 159-61. 

1 16. Neale, I, 369. 

117. Displaying, fol. C2. 

118. Displaying, M.n. 

1 19. I am grateful to Professor Murray Tolmie for this insight. 



Book Reviews / Comptes rendus 



Ralph Berry. Shakespeare and Social Class. Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: 
Humanities Press International, 1988. Pp. xxii, 198. 

When distributing a bibliography to his graduate students at the University of Manitoba, 
Ralph Berry would explain the brevity of his list by noting that in spite of the 
overwhelming number of books published about Shakespeare each year, very few of 
them are any good. Following his example, the bibliography which I distribute to my 
Shakespeare classes is usually quite brief, but expanded, in a manner his undoubtedly 
is not, to include all the books that Berry himself has written. Ralph Berry's studies 
have made their way onto my select list both for the originality of insight and also, most 
compellingly, for the articulation of a thorough and useful approach to the plays. His 
approach is characterized, first, by a keen ear for the subtleties of Shakespeare's 
language from variations in tone through to the larger patterns of prosody and the 
curiosities of subtextual repetitions. Secondly, Berry holds forward Shakespeare's 
"divine neutrality" in controversial issues of interpretation, looking instead for the 
solutions to these difficulties in the most intelUgent productions of recent years. Finally, 
Berry views the chronology of the plays as "the key to the study," for he maintains 
firmly that "Shakespeare never stopped developing, and that should qualify generaliza- 
tions based on his practice at any one time" (xviii). 

Although I feared at first that social class would prove to be too limited a field 
for the free range of Berry 's ideas, I was wrong; Shakespeare and Social Class yields 
insights on virtually every page, from a flash of illumination on a well-worn line in 
Hamlet to the presentation of the conflicts that arise out of social class in the 
characters of every play. In his introduction. Berry reminds us, first, that 
Shakespeare's plays contain a full range of characters from every social class and 
that their relationships "express the social order in which they live" (ix). He adds 
that while "status and income receive intermittent treatment . . . rank and occupation 
are there all the time" (ix). Although Shakespeare includes people of all ranks. Berry 
feels that the most important distinction made in the plays is the "great divide," the 
central class distinction, "between gentlemen and the rest" (xii). Gentility is an 
indication of "birth, education, wealth, behaviour and values." Above all, it estab- 
lishes an ideal of conduct which requires a constant balancing act as the gentleman 
is confronted by "the usurper, the inferior classes," and faces challenges of all sorts. 
In short, there is a "tension between rank and conduct" (xiv) present in each of the 



174 / Renaissance and Reformation 

plays. Berry notes, "People are shown making claims for themselves and others via 
class. What one makes of those claims is part of the most essential plot, the real 
play in performance" (xv). 

Although the class of each character is not always included in the cast list, Berry 
notes that class is conferred, nonetheless, through a number of different means. 
Class is conveyed, first, both directly and indirectly through language. It is well 
known that each speaker in each play has his/her own unique mode of expression, 
but Berry calls to our attention the fact that these unique language patterns convey 
rank and education as much as character. A speaker's language — use of tropes, 
swearing, imagery patterns — are all indicators of the social system within which 
the character has developed. Rank and class enter, as well, into the distinction 
between the characters who speak in blank verse and those who speak in prose. As 
a rule, blank verse is "the medium of the gentry" while prose is "the medium of 
those who, for various reasons which include the social, fall beneath the dignity of 
verse" (xvi). We are all aware of how crucial these distinctions can be in a play like 
The Tempest wherein an "unregenerate" character like Caliban speaks in the 
language of the gentry, which identifies him as being of an order superior to the 
drunken Stephano and Trinculo. Here, Caliban's language forces a re-evaluation of 
one who is regarded by many of the other characters as subhuman. Berry also notes 
that verse is not invariably related to rank for many members of the aristocracy lapse 
into prose from time to time. However, these times are to be closely considered, for 
Berry warns that prose may mark a simple lapse into informality or it may indicate 
a more subtle characteristic such as disorientation or subterfuge. 

The discussion of language as a conveyor of rank extends, as well, to a usage which 
has probably escaped the notice of today's audience, namely, the distinction between 
you and thou. Berry notes that you is a "mark of respect when addressing a social 
superior" while thou "conveys intimacy, whether of warmth or hostility." Thus, 
"thou/you is an infinitely subtle marker of distance between human beings, constantly 
moving on the scale" (xvii). By way of example. Berry looks at the use of thou in a 
single line in one of the best known scenes in Hamlet and provides a new dimension to 
the dynamics of Hamlet's revenge and anger. He writes: "The person addressing the 
other as thou has the initiative: he claims a social right for himself. Hamlet, who must 
spend the play addressing Claudius as you (and is so addressed by Claudius: they are 
not close these two) ends it with 'Here, thou incestuous, murd'rous damned Daney 
Drink off this potion. ' With thou, Hamlet releases a social insult, the linguistic analogue 
to killing the King" (xvii). The use of thou or you can serve as a means of determining 
the relative social standing of the speakers, for while such things may not always be 
clear to the audience, the players "always seem to know." 

A knowledge of social class is also useful to the actor in developing, and the critic 
in analyzing, characterization. Berry cites Coriolanus as an example of a character 
that cannot be understood without coming to terms with his class background. In 
this case, as in many others, "class is an ellipsis of motivation" (xviii) which the 
actor or critic can utilize. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 175 

Shakespeare's sense of social order, like everything else in the plays, changes 
with the major phases of his career. An understanding of the chronology of the plays, 
therefore, assists in interpreting the social patterns. Berry provides a useful enumer- 
ation of "the main periods and emphases of Shakespeare's work as they bear upon 
social class" (xx) and discusses each play in terms of this chronology. In summary, 
the early plays. Berry asserts, are characterized by "stable relationships between 
classes and fixed counters" (xix). All of this changes in the middle comedies, where 
the social issues are more complex with social frictions often at the core of the play 's 
actions. The second tetralogy of history plays present a complete panorama of social 
classes and tests the English class system under the "pressures of war." In the major 
tragedies, "class" is "completely assimilated into character and motivation." While 
the later plays "bring all social values into question," the final romances offer a 
return to order, with a diminished interest in class structures (xx-xix). Berry's 
discussions of the individual plays are grouped according to this chronology. While 
each chapter is worth reading, a sampling of the new interpretations that arise from 
a consideration of social class in some of the best-known plays will suggest the 
strengths of Berry's approach. 

The discussion of The Taming of the Shrew, for example, tempers much of the 
distaste that contemporary feminists and social critics feel about Petruchio's crude 
courtship of Katherina. Rather than a cruel "taming," Berry sees the main action of 
the play as "an account of an Elizabethan marriage, as negotiated by a pair of 
tough-minded practitioners" (25). The marriage "contract" is based upon the value 
system of the nobility, a code of manner which both Katherina and Petruchio share. 
Baptista, who structures the courtship, "has gotten where he is by the certainties of 
family merger and marriage contracts." Crucial here is Berry's reminder that all of 
the male actors who control the play are gentlemen. Katherina's refusal to marry 
has set a road-block in the way of their gentlemanly negotiations. The way is cleared 
in the "key" passage, the "wasp" dialogue (2. 1. 212-16) which ends with Petruchio's 
assertion that he is a gentleman (in spite of his obscene suggestions). Berry adds 
that Petruchio's statement is "advanced as a measure of conduct," (26) and Kather- 
ina and he negotiate their relationship within the terms of this code. Once this 
behavioral code is established between them, Petruchio and Katherina both learn to 
live within the boundaries of their bargain: "Gradually, the behaviour of both is 
encased within a class formation. Petruchio and Katherina are learning to live as a 
gentleman and a gentlewoman" (28). Berry sees Katherina and Petruchio as equal 
partners in the agreement they have negotiated. 

Twelfth Night reveals some of the problems when the class and rank of characters 
are less sure, and the code of conduct is enmeshed in the struggles of individuals 
between class and identity. Berry notes, "In no play of Shakespeare's is it more 
important to place the characters socially, and in none do they spend more time in 
pursuit of their definitions" (68). The "heavily charged atmosphere" of the play is 
the result of the "frictions, ambitions and resentments" as the social classes interact 
(73). Berry terms the play "an anatomy of social mobility," wherein "three of its 



176 / Renaissance and Reformation 

personages marry upward (Sebastian, Viola and Maria), and two seek to (Sir Andrew 
and Malvolio.)" The action of the play revolves around the maneuverings between 
"those who have" and "those who desire," wherein "identity is sometimes asserted, 
sometimes infringed upon" (73). In his interpretation. Berry helps to sort out the 
class of each of the central characters and looks at some of the great actor's solutions 
to the problem of Malvolio's alienation from the fmal concord of the others. 

Social commentary and the problems of social position inform and color each of 
the history plays in the second tetralogy. Henry IV, I, for example, presents a 
"panorama of English social life" out of which the major characters grow. Berry 
compares Hal to an anthropologist field-worker who intimately observes the cus- 
toms and languages of the world he will inherit. Berry terms Hal's position an 
ambivalent one, for "Shakespeare shows a young man not yet invested in the 
authority that will be his, having to deal with all social classes from tinkers to the 
Lord Chief Justice. Con men, friends, offers, criticism, traps, he has to surmount 
them all" (78). The social commentary arises from Falstaff 's part in the war scenes. 
Berry concludes that war, as Falstaff presents it, "is an affair of the poor, the 
unemployed, criminals and dropout. Those who can afford to, pay to dodge the draft. 
This bleak and patently accurate analysis of the social formations used by the 
military comes from one who is himself something of a dropout from the knight- 
hood" (82). These elements combine in the creation of a truly epic drama, "with its 
extraordinary sense of life as it is lived" (77). 

In his analysis of King Lear, Berry gives a new force to the rather tired discussions 
of the thematic importance of the concept of natural order in the play. He begins by 
asserting the crucial importance of the opening scene to the larger concems of the play. 
By understanding this scene, wherein Glouchester introduces his illegitimate son, 
Edmund, the later blinding of Glouchester seems much less an act of gratuitous cruelty 
than an outcome of his own actions. In his treatment of the son of whom he is ashamed, 
Glouchester can be seen as "a type of callousness and insensitivity — the aristocrat who 
will neither acknowledge properly nor cut off his bastard, and thereby, breeds a 
malcontent" (103). The play, in a larger sense, then, "depicts with an unillusioned clarity, 
the consequences of a failure to assimilate a well-bom outsider into the social order" 
(103). The climax of the play, the heath scenes, also are imbued with questions about 
social class. As the world and its structures appear to be falling apart, all social order is 
challenged and put together again on a new basis. These scenes reflect the persistent 
rebellions against the social order that permeate the play. The fmal battle in the play, 
that between Edgar and his brother, brings social standing to the foreground: "The 
contest between right and wrong is fought out within a class and is so emphasized" 
(111). Edmund, throughout, focuses the limitations of the social system. He has a "stark 
choice, submission or revolt," which "is the disabling weakness of the social order 
that Shakespeare diagnoses" (111). 

The world of The Tempest offers other possibilities than submission or revolt Of the 
later plays, this one yields particularly well to an analysis in terms of social class. As 
Berry notes, "Master and man: that is the relationship to which The Tempest tums again 



Renaissance et Réfonne / 177 

and again," (180) as Ariel and Caliban seek independence from Prospero's control. 
Social class and identity are interwoven in their quest for freedom. The storm at sea, 
the tempest of the opening scene, reveals at once the "class tensions" of the old 
world which are being brought, like so much luggage, to the new. Each of the 
characters is given an opportunity to reflect upon the possibilities of a new world 
and new social structure upon arriving in Prospero's domain. Berry is intrigued by 
recent interpretations of the play which emphasize its social content. He cites, 
specifically, Jonathan Miller's production which viewed the play as a "myth of 
decolonization," for Berry believes that remains "the most urgent and compelling of 
the possibilities in the text" (185). While Shakespeare was not omniscientiy comment- 
ing upon colonial practices three-hundred years in the future, he was deeply concerned 
with the inter-relationship of "service and freedom" (185) which shapes our social and 
political analysis today. 

If there is a weakness in Berry's book, it surfaces particularly acutely in the discussion 
of The Tensest in the absence of any discussion of Miranda. This omission reflects the 
general lack of interest in the class struggles of the female characters. For example, 
although Berry does consider Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew to be a participant 
in the social contract she forms with Petruchio, nothing has been said about her 
alternatives to such a contract. In the discussion of The Tempest, Miranda is mentioned 
only in passing in connection with the discussion of other characters. She certainly 
deserves as much space as Ariel, for her world has been suddenly infused with social 
relationships she has never considered, nor been educated to consider. Her need for an 
education within a wider social context, her need at adolescence to widen her personal 
horizons, her need for the freedom to select a mate, are all topics which touch upon the 
very ideas of "service and freedom" which Berry has identified as central to the play. 

In spite of the lack of interest in the social standing of Shakespeare's female 
characters, this book can be recommended to anyone, whether student or specialist, 
for its wealth of insights, which range from the illumination of a single line to the 
shaping of a conceptual framework that encompasses all of the plays. The clarity 
and readability of the text is also noteworthy. Berry strikes that delicate point of 
balance between specific reference and conceptual theory that so often eludes the 
scholarly author. The reader is never buried in a plethora of footnotes about 
footnotes; Berry attributes his sources quickly and efficiently and develops his own 
interpretations without belabouring the point. Most importantly, Ralph Berry's book 
turns the reader back to the plays with renewed interest, eager to locate a strand of 
a new colour within the intricate tapestries of Shakespeare's works. 

LORELEI CEDERSTROM, Brandon University 



178 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Johannes Cochlaeus. Responsio AdJohannem Bugenhagium Pomeranum, edited 
by Ralph Keen. Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1988. Pp. 10, 178. 

This tidy, well-organized little work consists of five parts: Introduction, Response, 
Commentary, Appendix A (Bugenhagen's Letter to the English), Appendix B 
(Luther's Letter to Henry VIII). A brief but adequate index rounds out this forty- 
fourth volume of the Bibliotheca Humanistica & Reformatorica. 

It is the potential prospect of a Lutheran England that unites the entries into an 
intelligible whole. Bugenhagen, who had married Luther and Katherine von Bora, 
had hoped to see a merging of a different sort, hence his brief letter to the English 
and his admirably concise register of the evangelical faith. Unaware of the role 
human desire would subsequently play in England's religious history, Cochlaeus 
took very seriously the possibility of a Lutheran England. His Responsio is a 
polemic effort to avoid this contingency. The response is typical of the guerilla 
warfare waged by secondary figures at the very beginning of the reformation period. 
Apart from the linguistic routines well-known to students of this era, we see the 
participants attempting, however crudely according to later standards, to enact 
themselves as human beings seriously committed to a particular religious form. 
Below the horizon of consciousness there seems to be an awareness of the tidal 
forces that would soon alter the faith and future of Western society. 

In addition to his aggressive defense of Roman Catholicism, Cochlaeus had 
written a handbook of etymology, syntax, prosody, and orthography. Nor was his 
energy confined to academic pursuits. He travelled from Bavaria to Cologne, 
Bologna, Ferrara, Rome, Frankfurt and back to Cologne. In contrast to the migratory 
Cochlaeus, Bugenhagen was pastor of the Wittenberg Church for thirty-six years. 

The valorization adduced in the response is primarily the assumption that the Catholic 
church is an etemally fixed Archimedian point. This gives some justification to the fixed 
phrases characterizing the diatribe. Despite the unpleasant protocol present in the rabid 
condemnation of Lutheranism, theological issues do arise. The contentious point of 
good works is resolved by noting that the works will follow from a suitable disposition, 
an opinion that would please both Lutherans and Catholics today. The example of the 
good tree, no doubt a reflection of the first Psalm so often referred to in the gospels, is 
almost a convention that avoids the ideological difference about human nature. In an 
era when change was gradual, Cochlaeus ' strongest argument against Protestantism was 
precisely its newness — whether this be the newness of Wittenberg, of a potentially 
Lutheran England, or of doctrine. This stance does not, of course, come to grips with 
Luther or the Swiss reformers. But traditional convictions had not yet been subject to 
the canons of serious historical criticism. Nor was it yet common for the individual to 
exercise moral freedom, particularly when contrary to the few powerful institutions that 
governed life then. 

While the Catholic Church at this time did not really take Luther all that seriously, 
Cochlaeus seems to sense that the challenge to orthodoxy was more than a tempo- 
rary aberration. Later, of course, the Catholic Church was forced to take Luther very 



I 



Renaissance et Réforme / 179 

seriously indeed. In contrast to Luther, the inspiration of Cochlaeus seems moved 
by very pale religious sparks. And yet, read from a distance, the difference between 
the two religious paradigms seems relatively small. 

Keen has done an excellent job in reproducing the Responsio from the original in the 
Herzog August Bibliothek, the Epistola ad Anglos from the 1536 English translation in 
the British Library, and Bugenhagen's epistle from a private collection. The dispersed 
material is now readily accessible and in layout, design, and printing that is equal to the 
intrinsic interest of the subject matter. Particularly commendable is the use of boldface 
in the Commentary. Altogether an admirable piece of woric. 

P.JOSEPH CAHILL, University of Alberta 



Etudes sur la Satyre Ménippée, réunies par F. Lestringant et D. Ménager. Genève, 
Droz 1987, 286 p. 

La Satyre Ménippée, savoureuse parodie des États-Généraux réunis par Mayenne en 
1593, et dirigée contre la Ligue, a fait jusqu'ici l'objet d'un petit nombre d'études 
ponctuelles et relativement disparates. Dans ce contexte, le recueil d'études réunies par 
F. Lestringant et D. Ménager retient l'attention non seulement par l'intéressante 
diversité des méthodes utilisées mais aussi parce que l'éventail des sujets traités réalise 
une étude critique pratiquement systématique et en tout cas inédite de l'oeuvre. 

Ces études à caractère essentiellement littéraire n'en établissent pas moins un 
fructueux dialogue avec les travaux les plus récents des historiens de la Ligue (E. 
Bamavi, R. Descimon ... ), travaux qui en révisent totalement la conception. 
Élargissant ainsi sa portée, cet ensemble d'analyses du discours de la Satyre 
Ménippée vise à le situer par rapport aux grands débats contemporains: redéfinition 
de la notion de roi, réflexion sur le pouvoir de l'éloquence, (pour ne citer que les 
plus importants.) La mise en perspective historique sur laquelle débouchent la 
plupart des études de ce recueil le range parmi les outils indispensables à la 
compréhension non seulement de la Satyre Ménippée, mais aussi de son époque. 

Il convient de noter que la diversité des approches n'empêche pas une certaine 
homogénéité des conclusions. En effet, les différentes lectures de ce texte, bien loin 
de se contredire, s'éclairent mutuellement et s'accordent pour lui reconnaître un 
même enjeu fondamental: la présentation sérieuse de l'idéologie des Politiques. 
Celle-ci s'élabore à partir de la figuration carnavalesque du discours des Ligueurs 
et s'en sert comme socle. Le texte carnavalesque s'achève paradoxalement sur un 
discours sérieux: la harangue de d'Aubray (ancien prévôt des marchands) désignée 
par toutes les études comme le point culminant de l'oeuvre. Expression de 
l'essentiel du programme politique des auteurs de la Satyre Ménippée, ce discours, 
en prônant la réconciliation nationale et l'instauration d'une monarchie toute 
puissante incamée par Henri IV, milite pour le retour à l'ordre. 



180 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Le premier volet de ce recueil s'ouvre sur la genèse de l'oeuvre, et dégage le sens 
des modifications survenues dans le texte de 1593 à 1594, L'étude comparative des 
Advis de l'imprimeur marque, d'après F. Poirson, l'élargissement du public visé 
ainsi que la volonté de donner à la Satyre Ménippée un statut littéraire. Elle renforce 
en les précisant les conclusions d'A. Armand et M. Driol qui examinent les deux 
étapes du texte même. Ils montrent que si les transformations du texte s'expliquent 
par les évolutions de la situation politique, elles n'en expriment pas moins un 
changement dans la conception littéraire de l'oeuvre ainsi que dans ses visées 
rhétoriques. Il ne s'agit plus d'un pamphlet, mais bien d'une représentation satirique 
des Ligueurs lors de l'Assemblée des États-Généraux, puisqu'entre les deux étapes 
du texte celle-ci s'est tenue. L'enjeu de cette satire vise cette fois à asséner un coup 
fatal au discours politique des Ligueurs. 

Les discours des orateurs sont encadrés par les descriptions significatives du 
décor où ils se tiennent. Ils ont pour prélude la description des Tapisseries de la Salle 
des Etats et pour clôture, celle des Tableaux allégoriques ornant l'escalier. L'analyse 
que donne F. Lestringant du fonctionnement très particulier de ce décor révèle à la 
fois le mode de composition et les modalités de lecture de l'oeuvre. Lire la Satyre 
Ménippée, c'est en fait transposer un décor spatial et allégorique en un discours 
idéologique destiné à tourner les Ligueurs en dérision. Ce mode de représentation 
reposant sur le passage du spatial au discursif est associée à une critique de 
l'imagination à la Renaissance. Les vertus mnémotechniques du mode de 
représentation, soulignées par F. Lestringant, répondent à l'un des plus pressants 
impératifs de la satire: marquer le lecteur en l'aidant à mémoriser l'essentiel. Tel 
est précisément selon M.-D. Legrand et D. Ménager, le rôle imparti aux vers de la 
Satyre Ménippée. Partant d'une réflexion sur la signification du mélange vers et 
prose (sens du qualificatif de ménippée), les auteurs rendent compte du choix de ce 
genre à divers titres. Si le mélange vers-prose répond à l'impératif de variété 
inhérent à la satire, il implique surtout, au-delà d'un changement de forme, un 
changement de ton et autorise de ce fait une diversité des points de vue contribuant 
à l'enrichissement du discours tout en renforçant sa cohérence, puisqu'il est au 
service d'une même idéologie, celle des Politiques. 

Quittant l'étude de la forme de l'oeuvre, l'article "Carnaval et monde renversé" 
en analyse un des constituants essentiels: le carnaval et sa signification. Il ne s'agit 
pas ici du carnaval rabelaisien à la portée universelle dont parle Bakhtine. Le 
carnaval de la Satyre Ménippée n'est plus qu'un procédé dont l'enjeu est étroitement 
politique. Le Carnaval, attribut de la Ligue, vise à la dénoncer comme un 
dérèglement dépourvu d'idéologie, et la condamne en s'en riant. Cependant le rire 
de la Satyre Ménippée est limité et contribue à la mise en valeur d'un discours 
sérieux, véritable centre de gravité de l'oeuvre prônant un retour à l'ordre naturel 
renversé par la Ligue et au sommet duquel trônera Henri IV. Selon D. Ménager, 
c'est à la figuration carnavalesque de la Ligue que la Satyre Ménippée doit son 
succès. L'éloquence ridicule des Ligueurs, contrastant avec l'éloquence efficace de 
d'Aubray, en est un des aspects qui n'est pas sans entretenir des rapports 



Renaissance et Réforme / 181 

thématiques étroits avec la réflexion sur l'éloquence dont débat l'époque. S 'insérant 
dans ce cadre, c'est plus précisément le rapport de l'éloquence à la politique 
qu'étudie D. Ménager. Ainsi la Satyre Ménippée dénonce les dangers de l'éloquence 
au service de la politique et partant jette le discrédit sur les clercs qui trahissent le 
spirituel en intervenant sur la scène politique. D. Ménager conclut en indiquant les 
limites de ce discours, dues à la circularité de son argument: la critique de 
l'éloquence ne fmit-elle pas par se prendre toujours et inévitablement pour cible? 

C'est encore sur l'idée du retour à l'ordre que débouche l'étude de J. Vignes "Culture 
et Histoire dans la Satyre Ménippée." L'analyse du rôle et de la signification des 
références culturelles dont l'oeuvre est émaillée, montre qu'en dépit de leur diversité 
(erudites, populaires, profanes et rehgieuses) et de la complexité de leur fonctionnement 
(références à Rabelais), elles font toutes office d'autorité. Celle-ci renvoie à un ordre 
ancien et "révèle l'esprit misogène et réactionnaire de la Satyre Ménippée" (p. 183). 

Les deux articles de clôture examinent le contenu de la pensée politique à l'oeuvre 
dans la Satyre Ménippée. Centrée sur l'image que les Politiques tracent d'Henri IV, 
l'étude de D. Ménager expose les caractéristiques de la notion de roi redéfinie dans 
son rapport à Dieu ainsi que les modifications qu'elle entraîne sur la scène politique 
et qui s'expriment d'une part par l'émergence d'un esprit national, dont M. -A. 
Barrachina et M.-C. Gomez-Géraud définissent les articulations dans l'oeuvre. 
D'autre part, le texte opère une série de confusions visant à donner comme national 
ce qui n'est en fait que l'expression d'un discours bourgeois et parisien. Ainsi 
s'imposent les bases de l'absolutisme en la personne du roi et de la conception 
centralisatrice du pouvoir. Il faut y voir l'expression de l'État moderne qui se 
construit sur les vestiges du féodalisme. 

Situant la Satyre Ménippée par rapport aux débats politiques, philosophiques et 
historiques du seizième siècle finissant, cet ouvrage explique l'oeuvre tout en 
contribuant à la compréhension d'un siècle dont la complexité tient peut-être à ce 
qu'il opère la difficile suture entre le Moyen Age et l'époque moderne. 

NADINE MANDEL, Université de Tel-Aviv 



Nancy G. Siraisi, Avicenna in Renaissance Italy, the Canon and Medical Teaching 
in Italian Universities after 1500. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987, xii + 
410 p. 

Le Canon de la Médecine, cette fameuse encyclopédie en cinq parties qu'Avicenne 
(Ibn Sina, mort en 1028) avait composée en langue arabe au tournant du onzième 
siècle, était, on le sait, le livre le plus important de l'enseignement médical dans 
l'Occident médiéval. Il fut traduit en latin à Tolède dans le dernier quart du 
douzième siècle, par Gérard de Crémone ou par un de ses collaborateurs, mais ce 
n'est qu'un siècle plus tard qu'il devint texte obligatoire dans certaines facultés de 
médecine. Malgré les défauts de cette traduction, sans parler même des critiques 



182 / Renaissance and Reformation 

qui avaient pu être adressées déjà à Avicenne, jugé mauvais interprète de Galien, 
par un Arnaud de Villeneuve (Siraisi, p. 66-67), l'oeuvre ne devait cesser de figurer 
dans les programmes universitaires ou curricula tout au long de la Renaissance et, 
dans certaines universités, jusqu'à la fin du dix-huitième siècle. 

Les meilleurs témoins de ce succès ininterrompu sont les quelque soixante 
éditions intégrales ou partielles de ce texte qui, dans l'état actuel de nos 
connaissances, ont été produites entre 1500 et 1674, pour s'en tenir à la période 
étudiée par Nancy G. Siraisi dans le livre que nous avons devant nous. Ce sont 
d'ailleurs ces soixante éditions qui constituent le coeur du corpus documentaire 
de notre savante collègue. Il faut leur ajouter, cependant, un nombre égal de 
commentaires sur le Canon écrits par des professeurs d'universités surtout 
italiennes (id., p. 175-186), commentaires qui refléteraient l'enseignement de 
ces maîtres dans leurs classes. 

Même si, dans l'enseignement de cette époque, le Canon ne servait plus que de 
manuel d'introduction à la physiologie pour les débutants (id., p. 106-107, p. 
111-112 et passim), sa présence dans le curriculum n'était pas sans poser de graves 
problèmes aux enseignants. Tout d'abord, parce que les savants des seizième et 
dix-septième siècles, ayant désormais un accès direct à l'original grec de l'oeuvre 
de Galien, ne nourrissaient plus d'illusions sur la valeur de la traduction tolédane 
dont ils disposaient. C'est pourquoi ils ont déployé un effort considérable dans ces 
éditions successives pour expurger le texte de ses erreurs. Pour ce faire, ils se sont 
appliqués à comparer leur texte latin aux deux traductions faites de l'arabe en hébreu 
au cours du treizième siècle (id., p. 132-138) ainsi qu'aux enseignements de Galien 
qui sont à la source de l'oeuvre d' Avicenne. La publication à Rome, en 1593, de 
l'original arabe du Canon par Giovanni Battista Raimondi (id., p. 143-152) con- 
stitue à cet égard un événement notable. 

Mais les problèmes linguistiques n'étaient à l'origine que d'une part des 
difficultés: l'autre part provenait du contenu même du Canon et de certaines des 
doctrines qui y étaient exposées. Les maîtres de la Renaissance devaient en effet 
prendre en compte les découvertes faites par leurs contemporains, les recentiores 
ou modernes, notamment en anatomie, discipline pleine de vitalité durant cette 
période, et en physiologie générale, snas parler de la pathologie des maladies, ainsi 
que les innovations que connaissaient les sciences naturelles, entre autres (id., p. 
230). On constate cependant avec Nancy G. Siraisi qu'Avicenne comptait encore 
des fidèles parmi ces universitaires (id., p. 202-203) et que nombre de ceux mêmes 
dont les dispositions étaient plus critiques ont tenté également de sauver le Canon 
en le défendant contre toute critique. 

Comme l'auteur nous le suggère (id., p. 90) et comme le montre une enquête 
effectuée en 1600 parmi les professeurs de Padoue à l'initiative d'Orazio Augenio 
(id., p. 113-120), il s'agit, au moins en partie, d'un conservatisme "curriculaire." 
Mais le phénomène analysé par Siraisi dépasse à mon avis le simple cadre de 
l'enseignement ou de la médecine: c'est un exemple précieux de la survivance d'une 
doctrine ancienne bien dépassée en dépit des données nouvelles sans équivoque que 



Renaissance et Réforme / 183 

devraient, en principe, la discréditer entièrement. On peut toutefois se demander si, 
par sa nature même, le corpus utilisé par notre auteur ne reflète pas mieux le point 
de vue des "fidèles" que celui des "détracteurs" du Canon (id., p. 168-169). 

La provenance de ces rééditions du Canon et de ces commentaires à l'usage des 
étudiants attire l'attention sur l'Italie du Nord, et prinipalement, sur les universités 
de Padoue et de Bologne. Comme Siraisi le montre très clairement dans la troisième 
partie de son étude (id., p. 127-217), c'est dans ces centres que l'on ressentit le 
besoin de cette production ou reproduction. Cette troisième partie d'Avicenna in 
Renaissance Italy est précédée de quatre chapitres groupés en deux parties: la 
première présente le Canon et ses doctrines (id., p. 19-40), la deuxième détermine 
sa place dans l'enseignement universitaire (id., p. 43-124). Les deux derniers 
chapitres du livre (id., p. 221-352) en constituent la quatrième partie, qui traite de 
l'effort de certains des professeurs de la Renaissance pour adapter, comme on l'a 
mentionné plus haut, certaines doctrines du Canon. 

Sont ainsi évoquées les tentatives de Da Monte, Oddo Odi, Patemo et Giovanni 
Costeo. Mais le cas le plus séduisant à mon sens est celui de Santorio, professeur à 
Padoue de 1611 à 1624 (id., p. 206 sqq.). Curieux de toutes les innovations scientifiques 
de son temps et saisi d'une ambition toute moderne de quantifier et mesurer l'ensemble 
des phénomènes médicaux et naturels, il se sent parfois mal à l'aise face à certaines 
doctrines exprimées dans le Canon: il s'élève ainsi contre l'astrologie judiciaire (id., p. 
284-286). Bien que plus remarquable que ses collègues par ses visées et sa vivacité, 
Santorio n'en demeure pas moins représentatif de tous les maîtres de la Renaissance et 
de leur dilemme face à ce classique de la médecine qu'était le Canon. 

Au terme de cet examen d'Avicenna in Renaissance Italy, on mesure mieux à 
quel point nous fait défaut un livre similaire sur Avicenne au moyen âge. S'il y eut 
pourtant une époque où le Canon joua un rôle déterminant dans la vie universitaire 
et médicale de l'Europe, ce fut bien au cours des deux siècles qui précédèrent la 
période étudiée par Nancy G. Siraisi. L'un des grands mérites de son livre est 
d'ailleurs que son chapitre d'introduction constitue à ce jour la meilleure synthèse 
dont nous disposions sur l' Avicenne médiéval. 

JOSEPH SHATZMILLER, University of Toronto 



Black, Christopher F. Italian Confraternities in the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge: 
Cambridge University Press, 1989. Pp. xiv, 32L 

In recent years confraternities have attracted a growing amount of attention from 
historians of late Medieval and Renaissance Italy. This is undoubtedly a response to the 
realization that confraternities played a vital role in the fabric of late-Medieval and 
Renaissance society. While there have been previous important studies of Italian 
confraternities, both in Italian (Monti, Meersseman) and in English (Weissman, Pull- 
man), professor Black's book is the first to offer a comprehensive view of confraternities 



184 / Renaissance and Reformation 

throughout the peninsula. As its author rightly points out, it is also "the first ... to 
look at them from many different angles and perspectives." (p.ix) 

This study, therefore, is also a solid general introduction to the entire phenomenon 
of lay religious associations. Geographically, there is the inevitable emphasis on the 
major centres of confratemal activity (Naples, Rome, Perugia, Florence, Bologna, 
Venice, Milan), with their rich archival resources. Confraternities in smaller towns, 
however, are also considered and included (in Lecce, Teano, Todi, Mestre, to 
mention just a few). The author is thus able to point out, when necessary, the 
parallels and differences between confraternities in large urban centres and in 
smaller towns. 

Though the author casts his net quite widely across the peninsula, the result is 
not a cursory, superficial description. On the contrary, exact references to specific 
situations and an ample critical apparatus allow for a clear, detailed understanding 
of particular as well as general situations. 

The chronological limit is the "long" sixteenth century, that is, the period from 
about the middle of the fifteenth to the middle of the seventeenth century — a time 
of great upheavals and change in Italy, both political and religious. Earlier material 
is included, but only as background. The Council of Trent and the ensuing synodal 
reforms throughout the peninsula are, in fact, the key on which the place and role 
of confraternities in Italian life is seen to turn. Professor Black thus points out clearly 
the influence of reforming bishops (Giberti, Bellarmino, Borromeo) on the life of 
existing confraternities and on the establishment of new ones. 

Given the variety of confraternities and their activities, professor Black has, quite 
judiciously, divided his chapters into clear sub-sections. Thus, for example, the 
chapter on the internal organization and religious life of confraternities has eight 
clearly defined sections: 1 . Statutes and official; 2. Councils and general assemblies; 
3. Enrolment, discipline and expulsion; 4. Feast-days and private confraternity 
devotion; 5. Forty-Hour devotions; 6. Flagellation; 7. Rosary devotion; 8. Death 
and the afterlife. This structure allows the reader not only to appreciate the 
complexity of the subject, but also to go directly to the description of a particular 
aspect of confratemal life and activities. 

As the author himself points out, the scope and structure of the book do not allow 
for the presentation of "one particular thesis or point of view." His aim, instead, is 
"to argue that confraternities had a key role — often neglected by historians — in the 
religious, social, political and cultural lives of a large number of Italians in the 
period, with implications for the later evolution of Italian society" (p. 4-5). 

Those of us working (either directly or indirectly) on Italian confraternities in the 
early modem period will find professor Black's richly detailed and highly percep- 
tive study of the phenomenon to be a gold mine of information and insights for our 
own work in the field. The scope and grasp of his work make it an indispensible 
volume for Italian confratemity studies, one that will become a standard reference 
work for future scholars. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 185 



KONRAD EISENBICHLER, University of Toronto 



Francesco Guardiani. La meravigliosa retorica delVAdone di G.B. Marino. Flor- 
ence: Olschki Editore, 1989, Pp. 165. 

The concluding sentence of La meravigliosa retorica delVAdone serves as the key 
to understanding its meaning and also its significance within the context of studies 
dealing with both Marino and, more importantly, the Italian Renaissance and 
Baroque. The final words of the book inform us that in final analysis Marino's 
poetics is a form of philosophical thinking: "... non resta che . . . riconoscere che 
la poetica mariniana è filosofia." (p. 158). Guardiani is here troping on Ernesto 
Grassi's conviction that "rhetoric is philosophy." Such a critical attitude leads 
Guardiani to promote Marino the artist on the ontological scale: that is, from a 
mindless hedonistic juggler of words (as many a critic would have us view the 
Neapolitan) to a "cultore del pensiero" (p. 128), a poet who is acutely sensitive to 
the ontic relationships between the senses and thought. But this totally justified 
promotion is enough to spark a clash with the prevalent interpretation of both 
Marino's art and the Seicento which (save the rehabilitating efforts of scholars such 
as Giovanni Pozzi and Marzio Pieri) have been generally denigrated in Italy since 
the Arcadia. In a largely hidden sense, Guardiani 's reading of the Adone also clashes 
with Heidegger's uncompromisingly negative assessment of Italian Renaissance 
thought. I will return to this latter point. 

The external anatomy of La meravigliosa retorica is contructed under the muse 
of the three parts of rhetoric: Chapter 1, "Inventio: dal madrigale al 'poema 
grande'"; Chapter 2, "Dispositio: La narrazione negata"; Chapter 3, "Elocutio: la 
logica della parola." In the pages that precede the opening chapter Guardiani 
pinpoints the current of rhetorical ideology he will subscribe to: what will be 
favoured are the positions put forth by Ernesto Grassi and Renato Barilli both of 
whom have independently developed an "existential rhetoric." Such a choice is 
conditioned by the fact that Guardiani aims to show the great extent to which 
Marino's poetry is about the interplay between the mundus of the imagination and 
reason. But it is Northrop Frye who nourishes the aesthetic ideology that is defined 
in this monographic study. 

The initial chapter deals with the artistic circumstances that give rise to the 
conception of an epic poem based on the mythological god. In the second chapter 
Guardiani traces the many details involved in the development and the realization 
of the Adone. The third chapter, unlike the first two which emphasize the macro- 
cosmic picture of the poem, gravitates upon isolated fragments so as to flesh out 
their artistic bearing. 

In less than one hundred and fifty pages of actual text Guardiani offers many 
insightful observations. These are supported by an arsenal of textual evidence and 



186 / Renaissance and Reformation 

are arrived at through both a critical orchestration of ecdotic data along with a will 
to discover the dynamics of the rhetorical figures that garb the Adone. I will cite a 
minimum of examples: Adonis' death is likened to that of the Saviour's (p. 52ff); 
the Adone is an open work, but not only within the economy of Eco's definition of 
the concept. What is privileged is not so much the relationship between reader and 
text but the rapport between the work and the world it depicts: "L'apertura 
dtW Adone è fondata sulla cosciente visione mariniana di un universo spalancato a 
tutte le possibilité di realizzazione" (p. 98). Finally, because it is keyed in a 
non-Cartesian mode the Adone is very much in tune with the postmodern sensibility 
(pp. 157-158). 

Paul O. Kristeller was convinced that the Italian Renaissance (and, I would add 
at the risk of putting words in the great scholar's mouth, by insinuation and extention 
also the Italian Baroque) offered a bare minimum of what may be generically termed 
"philosophical thought." We can trace a parallel stance in Heidegger who in the 
Letter on Humanism accused Renaissance Humanism of being a naive form of 
anthropomorphism which was oblivious to the question of Being. As we all know 
by now, Ernesto Grassi corrected these historically flawed views by showing the 
great extent to which Italian figures from Mussato, Salutati and Pontano through to 
Tesauro in the Seicento on to Vico in the following century were at task at 
elaborating a form of philosophy that hinged on the cognitive capacities of metaphor 
and rhetorical utterance in general. 

But to arrive at Grassi 's conclusions we must overcome the worn tendency to 
perceive philology as textual antiquarianism and understand it instead the way the 
Italian Humanists did, namely as a tropology which studies the many turns and 
twists words and texts undertake throughout time (I wish to posit emphasis on the 
"twists" and the "turns" for these are the same elements which will obsess Freud 
and Derrida; both of whom treat the sign as a helpless victim of diachronic erosion 
and displacement). This is why Guardiani's book is of significance. His attitude 
toward Marino is one that privileges the erring and disfigurations (he does not 
employ these very terms) of the rhetorical figures that breathe life into the Adone. 
It is this same critical disposition that leads him to conclude that the rhetorical 
figures that were staple diet for any Baroque poet are not unorganic embellishment 
placed there to mask any supposed lack of poetic and philosophical depth. It is the 
very rhetorical circuitry of the Adone, as Guardiani discovers, that serves as the 
fount of any philosophical possibility. 

Finally, Guardiani's study is a confirmation of the fact that we are well on our 
way to salvaging the forgotten value of not only one of the most important poets 
Europe has ever produced, but also an historical period, the Renaissance-Baroque, 
that has been reduced to an academic formula. For this reason. La meravigliosa 
retorica is necessary reading for all those concerned with Marino and the Cinque- 
cento-Seicento. 

PAUL COLILLI, Laurentian University 



ERRATUM 

Dissolution and the Making of the English Literary Canon: 
The Catalogues of Leland and Bale 

Trevor Ross 



The first paragraph of the above article was inadvertently omitted from page 
57 of the Winter 1991 issue of Renaissance and Reformation. A revised page 
is being mailed along with this issue of the Journal. 

The editors regret the error and apologize for any inconvenience or embar- 
rassment to the readers and the author. 






ai 




Renaissance 



^ 



and 






Reformation 

Renaissance 

et 

Réforme 





^^Slty 0^^^" 



New Series, Vol. XV, No. 3 Nouvelle Série, Vol. XV, No. 3 

Old Series, Vol. XXVII, No. 3 Ancienne Série, Vol. XXVII, No. 3 
Summer 1991 été 



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CONTENTS / SOMMAIRE 



ARTICLES 

187 

Perceforest et Amadis de Gaule: le roman chevaleresque à la Renaissance 

par Jean-Philippe Beaulieu 

199 

Erasmus, Revision, and the British Library Manuscript Egerton 1651 

by David R. Carlson 

233 

The Politics of John Donne's Devotions Upon Emergent 

Occasions Reconsidered 

by Mary Arshagouni 

249 

La création du monde et The Taming of the Shrew: 

Du Bartas comme intertexte 

par Richard Hillman 

BOOK REVIEWS / COMPTES RENDUS 

259 
Elaine V. Beilin. Redeeming Eve. Women Writers of the English 

Renaissance 
reviewed by Joyce T. Forbes 



261 

Michael J. Heath. Crusading Commonplaces: 

La Noue, Lucinge and Rhetoric against the Turks 

compte rendu par Pierre-Louis Vaillancourt 

263 

The Entertainment of His Most Excellent Majestic Charles II, by John 

Ogilby, London, 1662, a facsimile introduced by Ronald Knowles 

reviewed by C. E. McGee 

265 

R. J. Schoeck. Erasmus Grandescens: The Growth 

of a Humanist's Mind and Spirituality 

reviewed by Jacqueline Glomski 

266 

Nicholas Howe. Migration and Mythmaking in Anglo-Saxon England 

reviewed by Daniel Wright 

268 

Ronsard et la Grèce, 1585-1985, sous la direction de Kyriaki Christodoulou 

compte rendu par André Gendre 



Perceforest et Amadis de Gaule", le roman 
chevaleresque de la Renaissance 

JEAN-PHILIPPE BEAULIEU 



Jj/n privilégiant le point de vue des censeurs érudits du seizième siècle, 
l'histoire littéraire a longtemps considéré les romans chevaleresques de la 
Renaissance comme une survivance de la mentalité médiévale qui per- 
vertissait l'imagination du lecteur par son extravagance et son manque de 
mesure.' Des études récentes montrent cependant que si les romans cheva- 
leresques ont fait l'objet, à la fin du seizième siècle, de critiques morales et 
formelles (s' inspirant des nouveaux idéaux de la Contre-Réforme et des 
conceptions diégétiques aristotéliciennes),^ la grande popularité que ces 
textes ont connue - surtout au cours de la première moitié du siècle - oblige 
la critique à réévaluer leur importance dans le monde des lettres et à ne pas 
les considérer a priori comme des prolongements décadents de la littérature 
romanesque courtoise «classique».^ Il y a tout lieu de croire, en effet, que 
cette production textuelle possède des particularités de contenu et de forme 
qui, sans renier leur ascendance médiévale, se combinent de façon à créer 
une singularité intéressante en elle-même. C'est sur cette assertion que se 
fonde la démarche d'identification des caractéristiques formelles du roman 
chevaleresque de la Renaissance dont nous présenterons les résultats dans 
les pages qui suivent. Il convient de souligner le caractère exploratoire et 
partiel de cette démarche qui fait face à des problèmes reliés, d'une part, aux 
dimensions considérables du corpus visé et, de l'autre, à la rareté des études 
critiques portant sur cette question. Voilà pourquoi notre présentation con- 
sistera principalement en des données de nature générale illustrées par un 
certain nombre de références à deux romans, Amadis de Gaule et Percefo- 
rest; données qui visent à constituer une synthèse pouvant servir de point 
de départ à des recherches ultérieures. 

Les inventaires bibliographiques qui nous sont parvenus soulignent claire- 
ment l'engouement que le public lettré français des quinzième et seizième 
siècles a éprouvé pour les romans d'aventures chevaleresques,"^ engouement 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVII, 3 ( 1 99 1 ) 1 87 



188 / Renaissance and Reformation 

qui s'est manifesté, entre autres, par un certain nombre d'opérations textuelles 
qui témoignent de la vitalité de la production romanesque de l'époque. 
Notons, parmi ces opérations, les mises en prose de romans anciens (qui sont 
en fait des adaptations au goût du jour), les traductions de romans étrangers 
ainsi que la rédaction d'oeuvres nouvelles.^ Il est possible de regrouper les 
textes résultant de ces opérations en deux courants dont les critères d'apparte- 
nance relèvent à la fois du lieu d'origine et de la matière du roman. D'un côté, 
on retrouve les récits qui s'inscrivent plus ou moins directement dans la 
tradition romanesque française. Même s'il y a au seizième siècle relativement 
peu d'oeuvres entièrement nouvelles appartenant à ce courant, les continua- 
tions, les reprises et les adaptations qui constituent l'ensemble de cette 
production comportent assez de caractères particuliers pour être considérés 
comme une étape ultérieure de l'évolution du roman courtois médiéval.^ 
Certains de ces textes reprennent des sujets épiques, tels Fierabras, Galien 
restore et Les Quatre Fils Aymon. D'autres s'inscrivent plutôt dans l'esprit 
de l'univers arthurien qui plaisait surtout au public aristocratique.^ A ce sujet, 
on peut d'ailleurs constater que les rédacteurs de la fin du Moyen Age, en 
dotant Arthur d'une généalogie qui remonte très loin dans le passé, créent des 
oeuvres originales telles Meliadus, Giron et Perceforest. Une troisième 
catégorie, qualifiée par Giraud de roman d'aventure, connaît une grande 
vogue au seizième siècle du fait de sa thématique populaire et folklorique. 
Dans ce groupe, on peut classer Valentin et Orson, Pierre de Provence et la 
belle Maquelonne. 

Parallèlement à cette importante production française, on retrouve les 
traductions de romans d'origine italienne et espagnole, ouvrages qui font une 
entrée discrète en France au début du seizième siècle, mais qui en viennent à 
prendre une telle part du marché que, pendant la deuxième partie du siècle, 
presque tous les grands succès de la littérature de fiction sont des traductions 
ou des adaptations de textes espagnols.^ Parmi les ouvrages italiens recher- 
chés par le public de l'époque, notons le Philocope de Boccace et le Peregrin 
de Caviceo.^ Parmi les ouvrages espagnols qui ont connu une popularité 
certaine, signalons La Prison d 'Amour et L 'Amant maltraicté de s 'amye, tous 
deux rédigés par Diego de San Pedro (traduits respectivement en 1526 et 
1539), ainsi que La Déplorable Fin de Flamecte de Juan de Flores, dont le 
succès est mitigé mais dont l'influence (par le truchement de la traduction de 
Maurice Scève [1535]) est importante sur des écrivains telle Hélisenne de 
Crenne.'^ N'oublions pas Amadis de Gaule de Garci de Montalvo (première 
édition espagnole: 1508) qui avec le temps est devenu un roman cyclique à 
auteurs multiples dont l'élaboration s'est étendue au delà des limites chro- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 1 89 

nologiques du seizième siècle." Ces textes, surtout ceux d'origine espagnole, 
présentent généralement des fictions centrées sur une analyse ou, du moins, 
une observation des comportements amoureux dans un cadre chevaleresque, 
d'oii le qualificatif - un peu trop fort croyons-nous - de «romans 
sentimentaux que leur a attribué Gustave Reynier.'^ Nous verrons plus loin 
comment il convient de considérer l'alliage de chevalerie et d' amor hispani- 
cus qui est particulier à cette catégorie d'écrits. 

Dans la perspective formaliste qui est la nôtre, il semblerait adéquat de 
distinguer la matière de la conjointure dans les ouvrages appartenant à chacun 
des courants décrits, pour ne retenir que les informations relatives à la mise 
en forme, c'est-à-dire la conjointure. L'une et l'autre sont cependant si 
intrinsèquement liées que l'isolement des caractéristiques purement formelles 
est difficile, sinon impossible. C'est pourquoi les commentaires qui vont 
suivre s'appliquent aux deux aspects des textes de cet immense corpus que 
constituent les romans chevaleresques de la Renaissance. Par ailleurs, vu la 
complexité et l'envergure du sujet traité, il est avisé d'illustrer nos propos 
généraux par des références à deux textes qui représentent chacun des 
courants en question: Perceforest et Amadis de Gaule. 

Les dimensions du Roman de Perceforest, récit dont l'auteur ne nous est 
pas connu, en font le plus long des ouvrages chevaleresques de la fin du 
Moyen Age.'^ Bien que tout indique que sa rédaction remonte au quatorzième 
siècle, nous ne le connaissons que par quatre manuscrits du quinzième et deux 
éditions du seizième (1528 et 1531).'^^ On sait, par ailleurs, qu'au cours de la 
période qui nous intéresse, Perceforest a connu une renommée considérable 
et durable au point que, même au dix-septième siècle, des écrivains tel Voiture 
affirmaient en être amateurs. L'ouvrage est constitué de six livres où sont 
racontées des aventures s 'étendant sur plusieurs générations de héros. 

Le roman espagnol Amadis de Gaule se présente quant à lui sous la forme 
d'une série qui a débuté par les quatre premiers livres et qui a formé, par la 
suite d'ajouts successifs dus à différents auteurs, un monumental ouvrage de 
vingt-et-un volumes.'^ Herberay des Essars a traduit en 1540 les deux 
premiers livres en français, traduction dont on a beaucoup loué les qualités à 
l'époque. 

En tant que groupe, les romans de la Renaissance (aussi bien français 
qu'étrangers) participent d'une dynamique formelle dont les divers éléments 
peuvent s'inscrire dans la catégorie de l'amplification et de la non-diffé- 
renciation. Ces éléments sont liés de façon si étroite entre eux qu'il est souvent 
difficile de les distinguer nettement et de les placer dans un ordre 



190 / Renaissance and Reformation 

d'importance indiscutable, ainsi qu'on pourra le constater dans les com- 
mentaires qui suivent. 

Disons en premier lieu que l'évolution du roman chevaleresque se caracté- 
rise par la disparition progressivement plus marquée des distinctions médié- 
vales entre les genres narratifs, distinctions qui étaient fondées sur des 
oppositions de matière et, surtout, de forme poétique.'^ A la fin du Moyen 
Age, le roman chevaleresque en vient ainsi à acquérir des dimensions textu- 
elles appartenant à des genres qui lui étaient jusque là plus ou moins étrangers. 
Il s'agit là d'un amalgame de matières et de formes qui trouve son origine 
dans la pratique du dérimage, très courante à partir de la fin du treizième 
siècle.'^ Par l'emploi généralisé de la prose, les divers genres narratifs se 
réalisent, au cours de cette période, dans le cadre d'une forme unique 
entraînant une perte de spécificité de la vision du monde propre à chaque 
type.'^ Cette tendance à la non-différenciation des matières explique d'ail- 
leurs le succès qu'ont connu alors les récits composites (tel Berianus) qui, en 
faisant côtoyer l'anecdote, le fabliau et les aventures courtoises, démontrent 
très clairement l'importance des emprunts effectués par les romans 
chevaleresques. Tous les ouvrages de l'époque ne font pas nécessairement 
preuve d'une telle diversité, mais ils possèdent néanmoins - à des degrés 
divers - une dynamique d'intégration qui réunit matière épique, matière 
arthurienne, éléments antiques, idylliques et allégoriques.'^ Cleriadus et 
Meliadice est un exemple de roman à la fois idyllique et chevaleresque.-^^ 
Perceforest, quant à lui, en réclamant le caractère de prologue aux romans 
arthuriens et en devenant de ce fait un prolongement rétroactif de la vulgate 
arthurienne, cherche à rattacher le cycle d'Alexandre à la matière de Bretagne 
pour former une seule oeuvre de dimensions colossales. C'est pourquoi les 
lieux communs de la littérature arthurienne - fées, tournois, demoiselles 
infortunées - s'y retrouvent réalisés par des actants (et dans un cadre histori- 
que) helléniques.-^' 

Par ailleurs, la traduction en français d'épopées étrangères (Morgante 
(1519) de Pulci, par exemple) entraîne l'inclusion de plus en plus marquée 
d'éléments épiques dans les romans chevaleresques. Il s'agit là de la revivis- 
cence d'un intérêt populaire médiéval encore très vivant aux quatorzième et 
quinzième siècles (comme le prouve la faveur que connaissent à ce moment 
des textes dérivés des chansons de geste, tel Les Quatre Fils Aymon), mais 
qui acquiert lors de la Renaissance un statut plus noble aux yeux du public 
lettré aristocratique.*^^ Le succès d^Amadis de Gaule, ouvrage qui selon 
certains critiques se présente comme une synthèse de la matière de Bretagne 
et de la matière épique, témoigne des nouvelles dispositions des lecteurs face 



Renaissance et Réforme / 1 9 1 

à l'inclusion d'éléments épiques dans le cadre romanesque traditionnel.^^ 
Selon Meletinsky, l'épopée met en scène un héros dont la libre initiative se 
confond avec le destin collectif et dont les actions déterminent la destinée du 
monde. Le romanesque, par contre, présente des personnages strictement 
privés dont le sort individuel est le jouet du hasard. Dans le roman courtois 
illustré par Chrétien de Troyes, le principe épique est lié au principe roma- 
nesque dans la mesure où le héros est un individu privé, mais aussi une 
personne dont les préoccupations personnelles s'opposent aux contraintes de 
l'environnement, d'où la présence d'une problématique sociale non négli- 
geable dans ce type de texte.-'* Le lien épique/romanesque y est cependant 
subtil car il est associé à un processus de résolution des conflits existant entre 
les obligations sociales et les sentiments des héros. A la fin du Moyen Age et 
au début de la Renaissance apparaît un nouveau type de réunion des principes 
épique et romanesque qui se caractérise moins par la superposition de pro- 
blématiques individu/société (superposition constante bien qu'effacée dans 
les romans courtois) que par la juxtaposition de séquences narratives relevant 
de l'un ou de l'autre des types narratifs décrits plus haut. Ainsi, dans Amadis, 
certaines actions du personnage principal, le Demoysel de la Mer, s'inscri- 
vent-elles dans le processus de résolution d'un problème collectif relié à la 
lutte contre un ennemi bien identifié (c'est le cas du combat d' Amadis et du 
roi Abies au chapitre 9 du livre I) alors que d'autres actions, qui ne mettent 
en cause que les enjeux personnels du héros, relèvent du hasard d'une errance 
dont la finalité échappe souvent autant au lecteur qu'au personnage lui-même. 
L'alternance de passages de nature et d'orientation différentes forme ainsi un 
texte qui a les apparences d'une mosaïque. 

Avant d'examiner les manifestations formelles de cette tendance à la 
fragmentation, il convient de souligner que l'amalgame de matières auquel 
nous venons de faire allusion apparaît en partie comme le résultat d'un 
rapprochement entre le roman chevaleresque et les genres historiques, rap- 
prochement effectué grâce à l'utilisation généralisée de la prose, considérée 
comme le véhicule privilégié du savoir.-^'' On sait en effet que la fin du Moyen 
Age a vu l'émergence de préoccupations historiques très marquées.^^ Et c'est 
dans une large mesure cet intérêt qui semble avoir amené les particularités de 
la littérature historique (comme l'utilisation de la prose) à s'imposer à la 
littérature de fiction. Il ne faut donc pas s'étonner de retrouver, dans les 
romans de la fin du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance, un grand nombre de 
procédés référentiels pseudo-historiques qui consistent, par exemple, en 
l'attribution d'aventures fictives à des personnages historiques. Perceforest 
est un exemple parfait de ce genre d'orientation textuelle: l'auteur a voulu 



192 / Renaissance and Reformation 

relier deux périodes historiques différentes en présentant Alexandre le Grand 
comme l'ancêtre du roi Arthur. Dans le but de justifier cette opération, le 
rédacteur utilise les 2 000 premières lignes de son texte pour présenter une 
histoire de l'Angleterre (d'après Geoffroy de Monmouth) mettant en lumière 
le séjour d'Alexandre dans ce pays. De plus, des lignes 2 008 à 2 060, l'auteur 
explique quelle est l'origine de son récit et cherche à en prouver l'authenticité 
par un exposé de la destinée du manuscrit originel. Ces préoccupations de 
véracité servent donc de point d'appui à l'histoire elle-même qui attribue à 
un personnage réel, Alexandre, une série d'actions fictives. Ces actions, tout 
en s'inscrivent sous le signe de l'aventure, possèdent des caractéristiques 
statiques qui donnent les actants et l'univers dans lequel ils se meuvent 
comme partiellement prédéterminés par le poids de l'Histoire. -^^ 

Parler d'aventure nous amène à signaler le fait qu'en général - et surtout 
dans les romans d'origine française - les aventures chevaleresques sont plus 
nombreuses et plus développées que les séquences de nature amoureuse, 
pourtant si importantes dans le déroulement narratif des romans classiques. 
Ainsi, dans Perceforest, on peut constater un net déséquilibre entre les deux 
fonctions principales du récit traditionnel.^^ En effet, l'amour, tout en étant 
présent dans certains passages (comme la rencontre d'Alexandre et de la 
Dame du Lac), a une place si réduite dans l'ensemble du texte qu'il apparaît 
comme un motif secondaire du récit. La situation est cependant moins nette 
dans les romans étrangers, car l'amour, sans représenter une dimension 
centrale de ces ouvrages, s'y manifeste néanmoins de façon marquée par une 
foule de petits détails décoratifs. Dans Amadis, par exemple, on peut remar- 
quer que la première partie (consacrée à la traditionnelle enfance du héros) 
décrit longuement les rapports amoureux d'Elisenne et de Perion (Amadis, 
p. 13); descriptions effectuées avec une touche didactique discrète, mais 
réelle. Il reste cependant que dans ce roman, comme dans la plupart des 
narrations chevaleresques de la première moitié du seizième siècle, non 
seulement les passages consacrés à des considérations amoureuses sont-ils 
relativement peu nombreux, mais leur rôle n'est plus primordial dans la 
dynamique diégétique, la fonction du désir amoureux s' atténuant par rapport 
à la fonction purement guerrière.^^ Dans Amadis, certains critiques ont cru 
pouvoir identifier une motivation amoureuse (la réunion avec Oriane) comme 
le but de la quête d' Amadis, mais un tel point de vue nous semble relever plus 
d'un placage d'intentions de lecture que d'une réalité manifeste du texte. La 
présence minimale de conversations et de commentaires courtois est indé- 
niable, mais elle perd sa pertinence devant les innombrables séquences 
chevaleresques dont le caractère de nécessité (par rapport à l'idéal de réali- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 193 

sation du chevalier) s'estompe. Nous touchons ici la caractéristique principale 
des romans de la Renaissance, soit l'hypertrophie de la dimension aventu- 
reuse du récit (et l'effritement de l'unité de la senefiance qui en découle). 

On sait que, dès ses origines, le roman chevaleresque médiéval a privilégié 
une grande mobilité de ses actants, mobilité reliée à la notion d'aventure, 
ensemble d'épreuves imprévisibles dans leur forme qui surprend par son 
caractère extraordinaire et auquel doivent se soumettre les héros. La succes- 
sion d'actions héroïques qui résultait de ce type de construction possédait 
habituellement une orientation, une finalité, puisque V aventure, manifesta- 
tion de la volonté divine, représentait une source d'enseignements personnels 
et sociaux.^^ La quête chevaleresque apparaissait ainsi comme le processus 
d'apprentissage d'un ensemble dynamique de quahtés guerrières, amou- 
reuses et religieuses. Dans les romans de la Renaissance, cependant, V aven- 
ture, facteur déterminant dans l'orientation et le sens du récit, fait place aux 
aventures purement guerrières, comme nous l'avons déjà souhgné. La quête 
n'est plus, dans une telle perspective, la recherche du dépassement de soi, 
mais un ensemble d'actions gratuites dont les éléments constitutifs, les 
combats, apparaissent souvent comme étant sinon absurdes, du moins peu 
justifiés par le contexte.-^' Le chevalier errant, type de personnages très 
fréquent à la fin du Moyen Age, s'en prend fréquemment au premier venu 
sans raisons évidentes, si ce n'est pour meubler le récit. En masquant ou en 
éliminant les enjeux transcendants de la quête chevaleresque, les auteurs de 
ces romans font en sorte que les aventures semblent constituer le but ultime 
de la narration (comme dans Meliadoret dans le Chevalier au Papegau), d'oij 
la tendance à les accumuler pour continuellement remettre à plus tard la fin 
du récit. C'est pourquoi ces ouvrages ont l'apparence de romans à tiroirs dans 
lesquels l'histoire est étendue au-delà du point de discontinuité logique.^^ 
Quoique ce type d'errance chevaleresque dans un monde merveilleux {Per- 
ceforest oXAmadis comportent bon nombre de fées, de géants et d'enchante- 
ments) ne soit pas en lui-même nouveau aux quinzième et seizième siècles, 
il reste que la façon dont on lui donne corps à cette époque fait en sorte que 
la quête perd son caractère téléologique pour se fragmenter en une multitude 
de petites actions relativement indépendantes les unes des autres; actions qui 
prennent place dans un univers, fantastique certes, mais dont le symbolisme 
originel a été édulcoré au point de n'être présent que dans quelques éléments 
du décor censés mettre en évidence la valeur du héros. La magie con- 
ventionnelle (et de ce fait prévisible) succède, dans ces textes, à l'au-delà 
féerique (imprévisible) caractéristique du roman arthurien. Ce type d'errance, 
qui est marqué d'un caractère de gratuité, se trouve illustré dans des romans 



194 / Renaissance and Reformation 

tels Cleriadus et Perceforest, textes dont l'ouverture narrative évoque ce que 
seront les romans picaresques de la fin du quinzième siècle. ^-^ 

Il n'est pas étonnant que le roman chevaleresque, en perdant une bonne 
partie de sa senefiance symbolique,-^"* tende à s'inscrire à partir du treizième 
siècle, dans de vastes fresques, les cycles (la vulgate arthurienne et les 
vingt-et-un volumes d'Amadis, par exemple), séries dont le caractère épiso- 
dique renvoie constamment à plus tard la finalisation de l'action globale du 
récit. Même si tous les romans de la Renaissance ne participent pas d'une telle 
sériation, la plupart reproduisent à une plus petite échelle l'organisation 
épisodique des cycles. C'est ainsi que des romans comme Perceforest, 
rédigés par un seul auteur, forment des sommes gigantesques de séquences 
narratives mettant en scène les aventures parallèles de nombreux person- 
nages. D'après Ryding, cette ampleur textuelle résulte d'une tendance très 
vive des rédacteurs de la fin du Moyen Age à amplifier le matériel narratif. 
On sait que de façon générale, le Moyen Age considérait que l'allongement 
de la conjointure constituait le coeur même du métier d'écrivain. Les genres 
longs jouissaient ainsi souvent d'un plus grand prestige que les genres brefs 
- du moins auprès d'un certain public. ^^ Les scripteurs des quatorzième et 
quinzième siècles ont repris à leur compte ce point de vue, mais de manière 
plus marquée en faisant appel à une multitude de procédés d'amplification 
matérielles consistant en des ajouts de matière dont la fonction peut être 
logique lorsqu'il s'agit d'élucider la trame, ou non logique, lorsque l'addition 
répond avant tout au plaisir de l'amplification pour elle-même. Les amplifi- 
cations rhétoriques, quant à elles, relèvent moins de l'addition de matière 
nouvelle que de l'exploitation maximale du matériel narratif originel par 
rapport aux sources dont l'auteur s'inspire. ''^ Sur les plans complémentaires 
de la matière et de la forme, ces deux types d'amplification consistent souvent 
en la juxtaposition de différentes histoires et en la combinaison du destin de 
plusieurs personnages reliés entre eux par des liens de parenté ou par l'appar- 
tenance à un groupe social spécifique. C'est pourquoi il est juste d'affirmer 
que les rapports actantiels deviennent extrêmement complexes dans les récits 
de la fin du Moyen Age, du fait de la multiplicité des actants et de leurs 
rapports. D'où l'utilisation de techniques d'entrelacement narratif qui per- 
mettent au lecteur de suivre les cheminements parallèles de chevaliers dont 
les quêtes sont simultanées. Ces techniques, déjà présentes dans les romans 
de Chrétien de Troyes, deviennent des procédés centraux dans le Tristan en 
prose et dans Les Quatre Fils Aymon. Notons la prolifération des personnages 
principaux dans Perceforest (Alexandre, Betis, Gadifer ... ) et dans Adamis 
(Adamis, Galeaor, Florestan ... ), prolifération qui suscite une complexifica- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 195 

tion des réseaux diégétiques menant souvent à un morcellement extrême et, 
disons-le, à une certaine monotonie de la trame narrative. ^^ 

Nous voici au terme de notre survol des caractéristiques formelles du roman 
chevaleresque de la Renaissance, survol dont l'aspect se révèle en fin de 
compte aussi fragmentaire que celui des textes qu'il cherche à décrire. Il est 
possible de voir dans une telle constatation l'inévitable conséquence d'un 
projet de recherche critique qui vise à cerner la spécificité d'un corpus de 
textes immense et assez peu étudié. Certains éléments de synthèse sont 
cependant formulables dans l'état actuel de nos connaissances, tel le fait que 
les romans de la Renaissance reprennent en général les thèmes et les formes 
des différents types de romans antérieurs - et plus particulièrement ceux des 
récits chevaleresques courtois - en en amplifiant toutefois certains aspects au 
point de déformer considérablement la configuration originelle des textes 
modèles. Cet effort pour enrichir des dimensions particulières du roman 
répond à une volonté de présentation syncrétique de la fiction, laquelle remet 
cependant en question la stabilité formelle établie dans les romans «classi- 
ques», tels ceux de Chrétien de Troyes. On peut en effet constater que 
l'exploitation maximale à la Renaissance de quelques tendances romanesques 
médiévales a conduit à un amincissement de la senefiance globale du récit: 
ce que le roman chevaleresque a gagné en ampleur et en diversité, il paraît 
l'avoir perdu en densité. L'origine de ce phénomène semble résider dans la 
volonté qu'ont les rédacteurs de cette période de réconcilier des idéaux 
formels et thématiques d'époques et de milieux sociaux différents, volonté 
qui doit probablement être considérée comme le reflet d'une société faisant 
face à la fin du Moyen Age à des changements de valeurs qui se répercutent 
dans l'image paradoxale de la chevalerie projetée par ces textes. -^^ 

Quoique de nature exploratoire, les quelques éléments définitionnels pré- 
sentés au cours de cet article montrent cependant que le roman de la Renais- 
sance n'est pas forcément une survivance archaïque des idéaux romanesques 
du Moyen Age. Il représente plutôt le point de jonction de plusieurs courants 
textuels, d'où émergeront quelques-unes des formes narratives privilégiées 
au dix-septième siècle. 

Université de Waterloo 



196 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Notes 

1. Marc Fumaroli, «Jacques Amyot and the Clerical Polemic against the Chivalric 
Novel», Renaissance Quarterly, 18 (1985), p. 23. 

2. Michel Simonin, «La Réputation des romans de chevalerie selon quelques listes de 
livres», dans Mélanges de langue et littérature française (offerts à Charles Foulon) 
(Rennes: Institut de français, 1980), I, p.364. 

3. Jean Frappier, «Les romans de la Table Ronde et les lettres en France au XVF siècle». 
Romance Philology, 19 (1965), p. 178. 

4. Yves Giraud et Marc-René Jung, La Renaissance I (1480-1548) (Paris: Arthaud, 
1972), p.48. Nous ne tenons pas à distinguer de façon précise roman d'aventures et 
roman chevaleresque. Nous nous contentons de considérer ce dernier comme un récit 
mettant en scène des chevaliers qui connaissent des aventures dont l'enchaînement 
constitue le contenu principal du texte, voir J.-Y. Tadié, Le Roman d'aventures (Paris: 
Presses Universitaires de France, 1982), p. 21. 

5. Giraud, p.48. 

6. Maurice Lever, Le Roman français au XVII^ siècle (Paris, Presses Universitaires de 
France, 1981), p.37. 

7. Frappier, p. 1 80. 

8. Alexandre Cioranescu, Le Masque et le visage (Du baroque espagnol au classicisme 
français) (Genève: Droz, 1983), p.391. 

9. Gustave Reynier, Le Roman sentimental avant «L'Astrée» (Paris: Armand Colin, 
1908), p.47-49. 

10. Raymond Lebègue, «Contacts français avec la littérature espagnole pendant la pre- 
mière moitié du XVF siècle», dans Charles-Quint et son temps (Paris: Éd. du Centre 
National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1959), p. 148. 

1 1 . John O'Connor, «Amadis de Gaule» and its Influence on Elizabethan Literature (New 
Brunswick [N.J.]: Rutgers University Press, 1979), p.5. 

12. Reyner, p. 3 

13. Helen P. Daniell, Studies in the «Perceforest», thèse de doctorat. University of North 
Carolina, 1968, p.iii. 

14. Le Roman de Perceforest (première partie), édition critique de Jane Taylor (Genève: 
Droz, 1979), introduction, p.l 1 et 29. 

15. Nos commentaires portent sur le premier livre: Amadis de Gaule, premier livre, 
traduction française de H. Des Essars (1540), éd. critique de H. Vaganay (Paris: 
Hachette, 1918), 490p. 

16. Michel Zink, «Le Roman de transition», dans Précis de littérature française du Moyen 
Age, dir. M. Poirion (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1983), p. 295. 

17. Jean-Charles Payen et coll.. Le Roman, fasc. 12 de Typologie des sources du Moyen 
Age occidental (Turnhout: Brepols, 1975), p. 47. 

18. M. Zink, p. 295; Marie-Louise Oilier, «Le Roman au douzième siècle: vers et narra- 
tivité», dans The Nature of Medieval Narrative, dir. M. Grunmann-Gaudet et R. Jones 
(Lexington: French Forum, 1980), p. 123. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 197 

19. Payen, p.48. 

20. Gaston Zink, «Cleriadus et Meliadice, histoire d'une élévation sociale», dans Mélan- 
ges de langue [ ... ] offerts à A. Planche (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1984), II, p.298. 

21. Introduction à Perceforest, p. 32-33. 

22. Ryding, p. 19. 

23. Payen, p.48. 

24. Elizar M. Meletinsky, «Typologie du roman médiéval en Occident et en Orient», 
Diogène, 127 (1984), p. 3 et 14. Michel Stanesco fait un bilan des interprétations 
sociocritiques des rapports individu/société dans les romans médiévaux: «Un regard 
glacé: le roman médiéval comme justification de classe». Littérature, 4 ( 1 98 1 ), p. 7-20. 

25. Daniel Poirion, «Romans en vers et romans en prose», dans Grundriss der Romani- 
schen Literaturen des Mittelalters, dir. J. Frappier et R. Grimm (Heidelberg: Carl 
Winter, 1978), vol. IV, tome I, p.76. 

26. M. Zink, p. 300. 

27. Marie-Louise Oilier, «Le Roman courtois: manifestation du dire créateur», dans La Lecture 
sociocritique du texte romanesque, dir. H. Mitterand (Toronto: Samuel Hakkert, 1975), p. 
185. 

28. Aron Kibedi-Varga, «Le Roman est un anti-roman». Littérature 48 (1982), p. 9. 

29. W.T. Jackson, «Problems of Communication in the Romances of Chrétien de Troyes», 
dans Medieval Literature and Folklore Studies (New Brunswick (N.J.): Rutgers Uni- 
versity Press, 1970), p.42. 

30. Jacques Ribard, «U Aventure dans la Queste del Saint Graal», dans Mélanges de langue 
[ ... ] offerts à A. Planche (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1984), II, p. 421. 

3 1 . Philippe Ménard, «Le Chevalier errant dans la littérature arthurienne [ . . . ]», Senefiance 
2(1976), p. 207 et 303. 

32. M. Zink, p. 298. 

33. Tadié, p. 22. 

34. Julia Kristeva, Le Texte du roman (La Haye: Mouton, 1970), p. 190. 

35. Ryding, p. 62 

36. Ibid., p.S2. 

37. /fe/f/., p. 116; O'Connor, p.87. 

38. D. Boutet, A. Strubel, Littérature, politique, société au Moyen Age (Paris: Presses 
Universitaires de France, 1979), p. 96. 



Erasmus, Revision, and the British Library 
Manuscript Egerton 1651 



DAVID R. CARLSON 



T 



he American writer Gore Vidal retails an anecdote about his friend, the 
playwright Tennessee Williams, of paying Williams a visit, only to catch 
him at a kind of behaviour that Vidal regarded as deviant. Williams was 
revising a short story that had just been published. "Why," I asked, "rewrite 
what's already in print?" He looked at me, vaguely; then he said, "Well, 
obviously it's not finished." And went back to his typing. Vidal means to 
make a point of Williams's obsession with working: "Tennessee worked 
every morning on whatever was at hand. If there was no play to be finished 
or new dialogue to be sent round to the theater, he would open a drawer and 
take out the draft of a story already written and begin to rewrite it."' But the 
anecdote depends for its effect on an implicit agreement, between Vidal and 
his essay's contemporary audience, to believe that publication finishes 
pieces of writing, in such a way that rewriting something "that had just been 
published" can appear to be a pointless, neurotic occupation. 

Things were different, however, before and even for some period after the 
advent of publication in print, which is what Vidal evidently understands by 
the term "publish:" well into the sixteenth century at least, Williams's 
behaviour would have been unremarkably normal, while Vidal' s shock at the 
thought of revising something that had "just been published" would itself have 
seemed shocking. From Vidal' s perspective, which he shares with his late 
twentieth-century audience - the perspective of a belief in the finality of print, 
in a fixity imparted by it to what is put into it - writers working with 
manuscripts of one sort and another, who were in the habit of circulating their 
work by means of manuscripts, appear to have been neurotic indeed about 
working; they were assiduous revisers and frequent republishers of work that 
they had already published.^ 

These different attitudes to rewriting seem to have something to do with 
the technology involved, with the material properties of book-production by 



Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVII, 3 ( 199 1 ) 1 99 



200 / Renaissance and Reformation 

manuscript means and by means of print; but it is in fact difficult to specify 
a cause.^ Texts can be stable in print, even though often they are not; but texts 
are not stable in manuscript, even when stability would seem to have been a 
desideratum.'* In the production of the text of every manuscript, human brains 
and hands have always participated, more and less actively;^ but the same is 
not so persistently true with printing and other mechanical means for repro- 
ducing writing. It is possible to make numbers of textually identical copies 
by means of a printing press because, once type has been set, human partici- 
pation in formulating the text itself can cease. The inevitable mutability about 
texts circulated and reproduced in manuscript may have discouraged writers 
from regarding pieces of work as finished, in the way that Gore Vidal would 
regard something published in print as finished. 

In any case, the Tennessee Williams-like attitude towards revision - the 
belief that "obviously it's not finished" even after publication - did not 
disappear with the advent of printing. It persisted among the first generations 
of writers to live and work in the nascent print culture of the late fifteenth and 
early sixteenth centuries, for whom printing was not yet synonymous with 
publication. Other means remained in use for making writing public; and a 
work's publication in any form, including print, did not obviate the possibility 
of its republication, subject to revision or not, by the same or different means. 
All that printing did was introduce an alternative means of publication for late 
fifteenth-century writers, without immediately precluding other means; if 
anything, the advent of printing may have increased textual mutability in the 
short term, by encouraging writers to rewrite, not only for further manuscript 
circulation, but also for print. 

Erasmus was among those who lived and worked during this period of 
transition from a manuscript-dependent literary culture, characterized by 
textual instability, to a culture dominated by printing and the idea of textual 
fixity that seems eventually to have been a by-product of it. For Erasmus, 
evidently, printing was only an additional mode by which to circulate his 
writing, a mode that may have been particularly profitable for him, but one 
without as yet other particular privilege or particular consequences for his 
behaviour as writer and re writer. He continued to avail himself of manuscript 
circulation for his work, publishing and republishing work to patrons and 
among equals in manuscript, as appropriate; and although he published in 
print a good deal more than most, perhaps all, of his contemporaries, his 
involvement with print does not seem to have made him any less assiduous a 
reviser of work he had already published. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 201 

The Erasmian correspondence and his published works combine to provide 
an unusually great quantity of information about Erasmus's activities in 
publishing his work and rewriting it in public overtime. The textual evolution 
of the Adagia, rewritten in public repeatedly over a thirty-year period, in the 
series of revised and redacted editions the publication of which Erasmus 
oversaw, only provides egregious examples of kinds of behaviour that char- 
acterize Erasmus throughout his career, including its earliest phases.^ The 
British Library manuscript Egerton 1651 comprises additional evidence for 
such practices, in Erasmus's comparatively early work as a poet. The Egerton 
manuscript is a collection of Erasmian writings - one rather formal letter and 
ten poems, one of them a poem addressed to Erasmus by the Parisian humanist 
Robert Gaguin - evidendy written c. 1500. It attests three poems not otherwise 
known, and this quality has attracted some scholarly attention to it.^ But its 
witness to the other Erasmian writings that it includes has been undervalued; 
its importance is as an authoritative witness to Erasmus's activities as a 
rewriter of work he had already made public. The texts of the Egerton 
manuscript shed light on the several serial campaigns of writing and rewriting 
that went into the creation of these early poems of Erasmus. 

Egerton 1651 is a small paper manuscript of ten leaves. It was written, 
without decoration or ornament of any kind, except for pen-work flourishes 
of the simplest sort, in a hand of c. 1500, which does not appear to be the hand 
of Erasmus himself.^ Copied into the book - casually, it would seem, with 
much abbreviation and a number of errors, only some of them corrected 
currente calamo by the copyist - are eleven items, all in Latin verse, with the 
exception of the first; the composition of none of them appears to postdate 
1500:^ 

[1] a letter, in Latin prose, headed "Generosissimo duci Henrico 
Herasmus," written in 1499 in England, fols. Ir-lv (Allen, Ep. 
104); 

[2] "In laudem angelorum," written before early 1496, probably in 
Paris, fols. lv-5r, comprising subsections headed "De Micha- 
hele," fols. 1 v-3r, "Gabrielis laus," fols. 3r-3v, "Raphahelis laus," 
fols. 3v-4r, and "De angelis in genere," fols. 4r-5r (Reedijk, nos. 

34-37); 

[3] "Hendecasillabum carmen," addressed to Robert Gaguin proba- 
bly in 1495 in Paris, fols. 5r-5v (Reedijk, no. 38, "Ad Gaguinum 
nondum visum carmen hendecasyllabum alloquitur musas suas"); 



202 / Renaissance and Reformation 

[4] "Epigramma Gaguini," probably contemporary with [3], fols. 
5v-6r (Smith, no. 15); 

[5] "In Gaguinum et Faustum Herasmus," written a few months later 
than [3] in Paris, fols. 6r-6v (Reedijk, no. 39, "In annales Gaguini 
et Eglogas Faustinas carmen ruri scriptum et autumno"); 

[6] "Carmen extemporale," written in 1499 in England, fols. 6v-7r 
(Smith, no. 9; Ferguson, p. 29; Reedijk, no. 46); 

[7] "In castigationes Vincentii contra Malleoli castigatoris depra- 
vationes," written in 1498 in Paris, fols. 7r-7v (Smith, no. 10; 
Ferguson, p. 30; Reedijk, no. 44); 

[8] "Ad Gaguinum de suis rebus," '^ written in the spring of 1496, 
fols. 7v-8r (Reedijk, no. 40, "Ad Robertum Gaguinum carmen de 
suis fatis"); 

[9] "Contestatio salvatoris ad hominem sua culpa pereuntem carmina 
futuri rudimentum," probably written in 1499 in England, fols. 
8r-8v (Smith, no. 12; Ferguson, pp. 30-31; Reedijk, no. 47); 

[ 10] "In dive Anne laudem Rithmi lambici," probably written in 1 497- 
1499, probably not in England, fols. 8v-10r (Reedijk, no. 22); 

[11] "Ad Skeltonum carmen ex tempore," the first three lines only of 
[6] above, followed by the annotation "ut habetur," fol. lOr 
(Reedijk, no. 46.1-3; cf. [6] above). 

The manuscript came into the collections of the British Museum Library 
in December 1854, having been owned previously, it would seem, by Benja- 
min Heywood Bright, whose books were dispersed by means of a series of 
sales, in 1844 and 1845, after his death." Nothing more can be said of its 
whereabouts between the time of its manufacture and the nineteenth century; 
but its presence in England and its English contents - the items in it written 
for English audiences, such as the letter to Prince Henry [ 1 ] and the poem to 
John Skelton [6] - foster the presumption that its provenance is English. In 
aggregate, the evidence supports the notion that the manuscript is a product, 
possibly at some remove, of Erasmus's residence in England from the early 
summer of 1499 until January 1500. 

During this period, Erasmus's acquaintance, Thomas More, took him to 
meet the Tudor royal household, then in residence at Eltham. Erasmus 
recounted the episode some years later, in 1523, in his autobiographical letter 



Renaissance et Réforme / 203 

to Johann von Botzheim, printed as the Catalogus lucubrationum, in which 
he describes the genesis of poems of his: 

Sed multo prius aedideram carmen heroico hexametro et iambico trimetro 
mixtum de laudibus regis Henrici septimi et illius liberorum, nee non ipsius 
Britanniae. Is erat labor tridui. et tamen labor, quod iam annos aliquot nee 
legeram nee scripseram ullum carmen. Id partim pudor a nobis extorsit, 
parti m dolor. Pertraxerat me Thomas Morus, qui turn me in praedio Montioii 
agentem inviserat, ut animi causa in proximum vicum expatiaremur. Nam 
illic educabantur omnes liberi regii, uno Arcturo excepto, qui tum erat natu 
maximus. 

The visitors were welcomed by the royal children Henry, Margaret, Mary 
and the infant Edmund "in aulam;" then 

Morus cum Amoldo sodali salutato puero Henrico, quo rege nunc floret 
Britannia, nescio quid scriptorum obtulit. Ego, quoniam huiusmodi nihil 
expectabam. nihil habens quod exhiberem, pollicitus sum aliquo pacto 
meum erga ipusm studium aliquando declaraturum. Interim subirascebar 
Moro quod non praemonuisset, et eo magis quod puer epistolio inter pran- 
dendum ad me misso meum calamum provocaret. Abii dommum, ac vel 
invitis Musis, cum quibus iam longum fuerat divortium, carmen intra tri- 
duum absolvi. Sic et ultus sum dolorem meum et pudorem sarsi.'- 

In 1922, Percy Allen identified what Erasmus says he presented to Prince 
Henry in 1499 with the Egerton manuscript, which had come to his attention 
only lately: "In the British Museum," Allen wrote, "is an illuminated MS. 
(Egerton 1 651) of ten leaves octavo, containing Ep. 104 li.e., Erasmus's 1499 
letter to Prince Henry] prefixed to a number of poems, most of which are by 
Erasmus. ... Though the Ms. does not contain the Prosopopoeia, it is very 
likely a special copy of some of Erasmus' poems prepared for presentation 
to Prince Henry after the visit to Eltham in the autumn of 1499."'-^ As the 
provisional nature of Allen's remarks suggests, however, identifying the 
Egerton manuscript with Erasmus's 1499 presentation to Prince Henry is not 
an altogether straightforward exercise. The basis of Allen's hypothesis is the 
fact that the Egerton manuscript recalls the terms used in the Catalogus 
lucubrationum more nearly than anything else known to survive: it does 
include a version of the letter Erasmus wrote Henry on the occasion, along 
with other English items contemporary with the letter. Nevertheless, the 
manuscript does not match Erasmus's account in the details that matter most. 



204 / Renaissance and Reformation 

The Egerton manuscript is too humble to seem fit for presentation to a 
prince, even at short notice.''^ In addition, the numerous errors of execution 
in the copying of the Egerton manuscript are unHkely to have been made by 
the author of the writings, or to have seemed passable to him without 
correction. '^ Most to the point, the Egerton manuscript is acollection of items, 
comprising a representative selection of Erasmus's early verse compositions; 
but both the account of the presentation in the Catalogus lucubrationum and 
the letter Erasmus wrote Prince Henry in 1499 to cover his presentation speak 
as if Erasmus presented Henry a single poem, the thing of which Erasmus 
claims, in the Catalogus, ""carmen intra triduum absolvi." In the prefatory 
letter that Erasmus wrote for the presentation in 1499, Erasmus again refers 
to his versified gift in the singular: he describes himself as a person "qui 
carmen suo ingenio, suis vigiliis elucubratum nomini tuo dicat," and says that 
he "non veritus sum hunc qualemcunque panegyricon nomini tuo 
nuncupare."'^ Finally, this singular carmen or panegyricon can be identified 
with a poem Erasmus printed repeatedly in the sixteenth century, with the title 
"Prosopopoeia Britanniae," a poem, unusually, "heroico hexametro et 
iambico trimetro mixtum," "de laudibus regis Henrici septimi et illius 
liberorum, nee non ipsius Britanniae." The letter with which this poem was 
printed in the sixteenth century does occur in the Egerton manuscript, as its 
first item; but the "Prosopopoeia Britanniae" itself does not, the one piece 
Erasmus almost certainly presented to the prince in 1499. Either Erasmus 
misled Botzheim in 1523, or the Egerton manuscript is not, and is not much 
similar to, the manuscript Erasmus presented to Prince Henry in 1499. 

It is somewhat more likely that the Egerton manuscript is, or is nearly 
related to, another publication of Erasmus's, that the correspondence again 
indicates he made in England in 1499-1500. On 20 August 1499, exit from 
England without royal licence was prohibited,'^ and Erasmus chose to pass 
the period of obligatory delay in Oxford. While there, between about the 
beginning of October 1499 until January 1500, when he returned to Paris, 
Erasmus stayed at St. Mary's College, the Oxford hall of his Augustinian 
order, the prior of which was then Richard Charnock. Charnock introduced 
members of the local learned community to his guest; in some measure by 
Charnock' s good offices, Erasmus formed in Oxford at this time a number of 
friendships that were to remain important to him over the years, among them 
his friendship with John Colet. '^ 

During this stay with Charnock, on or about 27 October 1499, Erasmus 
received a letter from a fellow Lowlander, who was at the time also resident 



Renaissance et Réforme / 205 

in Oxford, Joannes Sixtinus, praising Erasmus's poetry, which Sixtinus had 
seen in something that Chamock had made available to him: 

Ostendit hodie mihi humanissimus dominus noster, Prior Richardus Chamo- 
cus, quaedam abs te carmina, non vulgari numéro trivialive currentia; quae 
si multo labore confecta essent, meo tamen iudicio non in infima laude forent 
reponenda. Quum vero elaborata exque tempore at te conscripta dicantur, 
quem credis futurum, modo sit ullius ingenii, qui non te cum summis illis 
priscisque vatibus, periectis tuis versibus, sit collacaturus? Redolent enim 
Atticam quandam venerem mirificamque ingenii tui suavitatem.'^ 

Neither Sixtinus' s letter nor Erasmus's surviving response to it - a letter 
in which, with an, at times, patendy false modesty, Erasmus denigrates his 
accomplishments^^ - is specific about the poetry in question. Sixtinus makes 
reference to a collection of poems by Erasmus ("quaedam abs te carmina," 
for example) that demonstrated a mastery of various metres ("non vulgari 
numéro trivialive currentia"), some of which at least pretended to have been 
written "ex tempore." The collection must have been such that by it Sixtinus 
felt himself adequately informed to pronounce on Erasmus's skills as poet in 
general: that is to say, again, that the subject of the exchange of letters was a 
collection, and it would have to have included substantial pieces of writing. 

In his reply to Sixtinus, besides simply belitding his "versiculos," Erasmus 
only suggests that the poetry must have been old stuff; his muses, he claims, 
have been enjoying ten years' rest: 

Quod hortaris ut Musas meas excitem, Mercuriali virga opus esse scito, ut 
expergefiant ... Excitavimus nuper, et quidem iratas, a somno plusquam 
decenni, compulimusque liberorum regiorum laudes dicere. Dixerunt et 
invitae et semisomnes cantilenam nescio quam, adeo somnolentam ut cuivis 
somnum conciliare possit. Quae cum mihi vehementer displiceret, facile illas 
redormiscere sum passus.^' 

The implication of this reference to the "Prosopopoeia Britanniae" is that 
it was not among the poems Sixtinus saw; otherwise, Erasmus would not have 
had to describe the poem for him, the point being that the poem so extremely 
displeased Erasmus ("mihi vehementer displiceret") that he would not want 
anyone to see it.^^ 

Because neither Erasmus nor Sixtinus is any more specific about the nature 
of the collection of poems that they discuss in their letters, neither quoting 
from nor describing or naming any of them, and there is no other evidence, 
it is not possible to delineate with precision the contents of the collection or 



206 / Renaissance and Reformation 

the form that it took.^^ But inasmuch as it seemed sufficient to Sixtinus for 
identifying the materials in question to say that he had received the collection 
from Chamock, Erasmus can be believed to have passed the collection to his 
host Charnock directly; in other words, the collection that Chamock obtained 
and then passed along to Sixtinus in October 1499 most likely derived 
immediately from Erasmian autographs. Since Erasmus was Chamock' s 
guest at the time, Charnock may have had access to Erasmus's foul papers - 
Erasmus's drafts of the poems, perhaps written on single, ungathered sheets 
of paper. These Charnock might have passed by hand, as they were, to 
Sixtinus, who was also locally resident at the time, and from them Sixtinus 
could have taken copies of his own. Alternatively, Charnock may have taken 
copies of the poems - all that were available to him or only selections - in a 
book that he could then have passed by hand to Sixtinus. 

Such a process of transmission would have yielded up a thing like the 
Egerton manuscript, with its unauthorial errors, its apparent lacunae - its 
failure to incorporate the "Prosopopoeia Britanniae," along with that poem's 
covering letter to Prince Henry - and the confusion about its treatment of the 
"Carmen extemporale," which it begins to include twice. It seems somewhat 
more likely that the Egerton manuscript is or has its origin in such a humble, 
defective, confused copy, taken from Erasmus's foul papers, by Chamock or 
Sixtinus or some other learned Oxonian, during Erasmus's stay with Charn- 
ock in Oxford in the fall of 1499, than that the Egerton manuscript is an 
authorial presentation copy for a Tudor prince. But again, because of the 
vagueness of the evidence for what Charnock and Sixtinus saw in 1499 and 
the want of further evidence, it is not possible to assert unequivocally that the 
Egerton manuscript issued from among the circle of acquaintances Erasmus 
formed in Oxford in late 1499, among whom he did publish his verse. 

This evidence from the Erasmian correspondence gives some idea of 
Erasmus's publishing activities during his time in England 1499-1500. He 
saw nothing printed; he had published little by this means before his arrival 
in England in any case, and English printers were laggard in printing humanist 
work.^"^ On the other hand, Erasmus did publish writings of his among the 
English, by means of manuscripts: he published a presentation manuscript to 
Prince Henry, probably a fairly formal thing, that seems to have comprised 
his just written "Prosopopoeia Britanniae" along with a letter written to cover 
it; and he published a collection of his poetry, probably more informally, 
among the circle of acquaintances he formed in Oxford. 

The extemal evidence will not admit certainty. In the absence of additional 
information, however, the physical and scribal properties of the Egerton 



Renaissance et Réforme / 207 

manuscript, its presumptive English provenance, and, most telling, the fact 
that the selection of Erasmus's writings contained in it includes only pieces 
written before 1500, the most recent of which are products of Erasmus's first 
English visit, all taken in light of what the correspondence reveals about 
Erasmus's publishing activities in England in 1499-1500, make it seem 
reasonable to imagine that the Egerton manuscript is a product of his activities 
in the country at the time. The Egerton manuscript is not the very thing that 
Erasmus gave to Prince Henry; it may or may not be the very thing that 
Johannes Sixtinus saw. It is not an autograph, authorial papers either fair or 
foul; but it appears to be an apograph, a copy taken, at a remove or two, though 
not more, from authorial papers made available by Erasmus - published, in 
effect - while he was in England in 1499-1500. 

The internal evidence, of the textual properties of the several items in the 
Egerton manuscript, corroborates this view of the manuscript's origin. The 
details of its textual witness are discussed in some detail below; briefly, the 
textual evidence is that the manuscript enjoys an authority independent of the 
other witnesses to the several writings and attests to authorial versions and 
revisions of the writings. Its texts are riddled with the sort of simple mechan- 
ical error represented by the example that Allen adduced as reason for 
dismissing it: the reading "Stelkonum" for "Skeltonum" in the letter to Prince 
Henry. -^^ Such mistakes, numerous though they are in the Egerton manuscript, 
are easily recognized as such. The manuscript's non-erroneous readings, on 
the other hand, are not so easily dismissed, being of several sorts, in part 
consequent on the manuscript's texts' relations with the other sources of 
textual information. Differences among the Egerton manuscript texts and the 
other sources are often extensive, and are often too intelligent to be imputed 
to non-authorial meddling. In some instances, the manuscript texts give every 
appearance of preceding the other texts, in textual terms: in such instances, 
the Egerton manuscript readings, while subject to later improvement and 
amplification, still appear plausibly authorial, as first tries. In other instances, 
most tellingly, the Egerton manuscript texts are intermediate, again in textual 
terms, between earlier and later textual alternatives: the manuscript texts 
improve antecedent printed texts, in ways that bespeak Erasmus's interven- 
tion, and in ways confirmed by the later printed texts, while also retaining 
readings of the earlier versions that underwent further revision for the later 
printed texts. 

Amplification is the most salient of the varieties of Erasmian revision for 
which the Egerton manuscript gives evidence. Three of the manuscript's 
items apparently antedate printed versions of the 'same' writings: the letter 



208 / Renaissance and Reformation 

to Prince Henry [1], the "Contestatio salvatoris" [9], and in the "In laudem 
Anne" [10]. Comparison of the manuscript with the printed texts of these 
items, indicates that each underwent extensive revision, taking the form, 
above all, of the addition of new passages to them, at some point between 
their publication in the form that brought them to the Egerton manuscript and 
their appearance in print. Erasmus seems also to have revised by polishing 
his work, repeatedly. The Egerton manuscript texts of his "In laudem ange- 
lorum" [2] and the three poems for Robert Gaguin [3], [5], and [8], represent 
campaigns of revision intermediate between other versions of the poems, 
printed as early as 1496-1497, on the one hand, and then printed again in the 
sixteenth century, in 1503 and 1507. In these instances, Erasmus would seem 
to have polished his work again, each time he had occasion to publish it by 
some means or other. This process of repeated polishing was not altogether 
cumulative, however; improvements made at one stage were sometimes 
forgotten at the next, and sometimes retained. In any case, instead of simply 
republishing what he had already circulated, the evidence of the Egerton 
manuscript indicates that Erasmus preferred each time to publish new poems, 
in effect - newly refurbished versions of the poems. 

In any individual instance, it might be imagined that the Egerton manuscript 
texts are non-authorial redactions, made from available printed materials; for 
example, that the manuscript's fabricator had access to the text of the letter 
to Prince Henry printed in 1500, and abbreviated and otherwise altered it to 
suit his own purposes. Such an hypothesis is more difficult to maintain in 
other instances: to make the Egerton manuscript texts of the epigrams for 
Gaguin, for example, the hypothetical fabricator would have had to have 
access to two printed books, and to have cobbled together his plausible texts 
from bits of both of them. But to suppose that the whole manuscript was made 
by such means necessitates imagining that the fabricator had the use of six or 
more printed books, published at various dates over an at least twenty-year 
period, between 1496 and 1518, in Paris, Antwerp, Basel, or elsewhere; that 
he chose from among the poetry printed in these several books only things 
Erasmus had written before 1500; and that he was able to create plausibly 
Erasmian new readings and to edit the disparate materials together in con- 
vincing ways. And still there would remain the problem of the Egerton 
manuscript's source for the two Erasmian items unique to it, the poem to 
Skelton [6] and the epigram for Caminade [7]. The Ockhamite alternative that 
the evidence will support is to believe that the texts of the Egerton manuscript 
derive from Erasmus's own papers, which he made available for circulation 
in some form while he was in England in 1499-1500. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 209 

Notes on the Egerton Manuscript Texts 

[ 1 ] The Letter to Prince Henry (Ep. 1 04) 

By the evidence of the Catalogus lucubrationum and its own statement, 
Erasmus' s earhest letter to Prince Henry Tudor was written during Erasmus's 
English sojourn in 1499, to cover his presentation to the prince of a copy of 
his verse "Prosopopoeia Britanniae," also written expressly for the presenta- 
tion. The text of this letter in the Egerton manuscript suggests that the letter 
underwent revision, at its author's hands, between its original publication to 
the prince in the summer of 1499 and its publication in print, first in 1500, 
after the middle of June, and then again in January 1 507, in the earliest editions 
of the Adagiorum collectanea?^ A number of the differences between the 
manuscript and printed versions of the letter are simple stylistics variants, 
more or less indifferent, of word order and the like; other such local variants 
of the printed texts, however, improve initial choices represented by the 
manuscript. For example, "'unus vates" - the Egerton manuscript reading - 
"eruditis carminibus praestare [immortalitatem]" is potentially confusing in 
ways that the reading of the printed versions, "soli vates," is not.-^ 

More striking is the difference of length between the manuscript and 
printed versions: the printed versions add four wholly new passages, one 
which comprises about a quarter of the length of the letter as printed. Briefly, 
the added passages do more to flatter Erasmus than they would have done to 
attract royal munificence. For example, to the manuscript version's list of 
princely memorials that the passage of time will destroy - "incisos in es titulos 
et operosas pyramides" - the printed versions added "et ceras et imagines et 
stemmata et aureas statuas;" and the effect of the insertion is to impute excess 
to princely lust for glory and absurdity to such ultimately vain princely efforts 
to attract it. 

The printed versions' longest insertions speak similarly to this issue of 
princely vanity. The only "glorie genus syncerius" that a prince could hope 
to attain, the printed versions add, is that coming to him "libero iudicio," "no 
ab amore, non a metu, nonab assentatione." The printed versions go on to add 
further that purveyors of assentatio - like Erasmus himself, in fact, who 
initially wrote the letter to cover his "Prosopopoeia Britanniae" - were only 
learned mercenaries, laughing behind the backs of the princes whom they 
flattered; and that modern princes were particularly susceptible to such wiles, 
because they were both stupid and undistinguished: modem princes "nee 
tamen a Gnatonibus suis laudari refugiunt, a quibus se rideri aut sciunt, si quid 
sapiunt, aut id si nesciunt, stultissimi sunt" - a statement which seems to leave 



210/ Renaissance and Reformation 

potential patrons room only to choose between being dupes and being idiots 
- and in any case, according to the printed letter, modem princes "desierunt 
facere laudanda." 

The longer version of the letter raises problems about relations between 
learned poets and their patrons - the longer version represents them as mercenary 
flatters and their victims, respectively - that do not come up in the shorter version. 
In the context of a printed book, the audience for which would in the main have 
been Erasmus's learned peers, the long version of the letter could suggest that 
Erasmus understood and stood above such venality and malfeasance. In the 
manuscript context of his 1 499 presentation to Prince Henry, as a letter presented 
to a potential patron (and, in this present instance, his adult handlers), covering 
something so abjectly flattering as Erasmus's "Prosopopoeia Britanniae," such 
matters were perhaps better left unmentioned. 

Here follows the text of the letter to Prince Henry in the Egerton manu- 
script, represented synoptically with the variants and insertions of the printed 
versions.-^^ The basic text is that of the Egerton manuscript; the punctuation 
is editorial; and the synoptic apparatus ignores simply orthographical vari- 
ants. Egerton manuscript (Eg.) readings varied by the printed versions are 
italicized, and the variants are given immediately following the italicized 
words, the variants from the 1 500 Adagiorum collectanea (a, as reported in 
Allen) enclosed in angle brackets, and the variants from the 1507 Adagiorum 
collectanea (b, as reported in Allen) enclosed in square brackets, often in this 
form: Eg. reading < a variant [h variant]>; omissions of a are represented by 
"< >" and those of b by "[ ]," following the words italicized in Eg. that were 
so omitted. Passages added to the letter by a and b are in boldface, enclosed 
in double angle and square brackets, with a and b variants and omissions 
within them italicized and bracketed above; words added by b only are 
enclosed within double square brackets. 

Generosissimo duci Henrico Herasmus 

Meminisse debes, Henrice dux illustrissime, eos qui te <> gemmis aurove 
colunt <[honorant]>, dare primum aliéna, quippe fortunae munera, turn <[pre- 
terea]>caduca^r/am<[ ]>;de'mdQqU(i\mpossing quani plurimi mortales <[qusim 
plurimi mortales] possiint [possint]> elargiri; postremo ea [ ] que tibi ipsi < > 
domi abundent, queque donare aliis quam accipere magno principi longe sit 
pulchrius. At qui carmen suo ingenio, suis vigilis elucubratum nomini tuo dicat, 
is mihi non paulo prestanciora videtur offerre, utopote qui non aliéna sed propria 
largiatur, nee paucis annis intermoritura; sed qu gloriam etiam uam immortalem 
querant <[queant]> efficere, turn ea que perpauci <[perquam pauci]> possint 



Renaissance et Réforme / 2 1 1 

donare [neque enim pecuniosorum et bonorum poetarum par copia), et <[ ]> 
que denique non minus pulchrum sit regibus <[sit regibus pulchrum]> 
accipere quam remunerari. Et opibus quidem nemo non regum abundavit, 
nominis immortalitatem non ita multi sunt assequuti; quam quidem illi 
pulcherrimis facinoribus emereri possunt, ac iinus <[at soli]> vates eruditis 
carminibus prestare. Siquidem «[[et ceras et imagines et stemmata et 
aureas statuas]]» et incisos in es titulos, et operosas pyramides, longa 
annorum series demolitur; sola vatum <[poetarum]> monumenta 
«momenta» ipsa etate, que omnia <[res omnis]> débilitât, invalescunt. 
Quod prudenter intelligens Allexander, ille cognomento Magnus, a Cherylo, 
poeta non admodum sane bono, singulos versiculos «[[tolerabiles]]» 
singulis Philippicis ex pacto redimebat. Sciebat enim <[Prospiciebat 
nimirum]> et Appellis tabulas, et Lisippi statuas, paucis annis interituras, nec 
quicquam omnino fortium <<[[virorum]]>> memoriam eternam 
«[[posse]]» reddere prêter immortalitate dignas eruditorum hominum 
litteras «[[nec ullum esse glorie genus syncerius ac prestantius quam 
quod a posteris virtuti datur hominum, non fortunae, non ab amore, non 
a metu, non ab assentatione, sed libero iudicio profectum]]». Age iam, 
qui malos versus tam chare prodigus emit, nonne optaverit <optinent [optet]> 
Homericos non singulis aureis, sed singulis urbibus emercari? Quem quidem 
poetam, tam egregium preconem <[ ]>, «[[et in deliciis habuisse, et]]» 
Achilli legitur invidisse <[invidisse legitur]> «[[beatum illum pronun- 
cians non solum virtu te, sed potissimum tali virtutum suarum precone. 
Quanquam non me clam est bac nostra memoria principes plerosque 
litteris tam non delectari quam [[eas]] non intelligunt; qui utrunque iuxta 
ineptum existimant, imo pudendum, optimatem virum vel scire litteras 
vel a litteratis laudari; quasi vero sint ipsi vel cum Alexandro, vel cum 
Cesare, vel omnino cum illo [ullo] veterum aut gravitate aut sapientia aut 
benefactorum gloria conferendi. Ineptum putant a poeta laudari, quia 
desierunt facere laudanda, nec tamen a Gnatonibus suis laudari refu- 
giunt; a quibus se rideri aut sciunt, si quid sapiunt [ ], aut [[id]] si nesciunt, 
stultissimi sunt [sint oportet]. Quos quidem ego vel ipso Mida stolidiores 
iudico, qui asinis auriculis deturpatus est, non quod carmina con- 
temneret, sed quod agrestia preferret eruditis. Mide itaque non tam 
animus defuit quam indicium; at his nostris utrumque.]]». Ab hac igitur 
tam generosa, tam regia Allexandri mente cum perspexissem pulcherrimam 
indolem tuam non abhorrere <[A quorum stulticia qum intelligerem 
generosam tuam indolem vehementer abhorrere]>, «[[dux clarissime, 
eoque iam inde a puericia [nunc a puero] tuos conatus spectare ut non 



212/ Renaissance and Reformation 

tarn tuorum temporum quam veterum similis evadere cupias]]», non 

veritus sum hoc qualecunque <[hunc qualemcunque]> panegiricon tuo 
nomini illustrissimo <[nomini tuo]> nuncupare. Quod <[Qui]> si tue 
celsitudini longe impar (ut est) videbitur, memineris facito et Artaxersem, 
regem prestantissimum, aquam a rusticano quodam operario, quam ille manu 
utraque haustam < > obequitanti obtulerat, hilarem subridentemque 
accepisse, et eiusdem nominis alterum <[alium]>, «[[ut opinor,]]» pro 
malo a pauperculo quopiam allato, perinde ut pro mangificentissimo munere, 
gratias egisse, ratum videlicet non minus esse regale, parva prompte accipere, 
quam magna munifice elargiri. Quinetiam superos ipsos <[Quid? Nonne 
etiam superi ipsi]>, qui nullis mortalium opibus <operibus> egent, «[[ita 
muneribus [[huiusmodi]] delectantur ut]]» contempta interim divitum 
hécatombe, rusticana mica et thusculo «[[paupere]]>> placari 
<[placentur]>, nimirum ojferentis animo <[animo nimirum offerentis]>, non 
rerum precio, nostra donaria metiaris <[metientes]>. Atque <[Et]> hec 
quidem interea tanquam ludicra munuscula tue puericie dicavimus, uberiora 
largituri ubi tua virtus, una cum etate accrescens, uberiorem carminum 
materiam suppeditabit. Ad quod equidem te adhortarer, nisi «[[et]]» ipse 
«[[iamdudum]]» sponte tua velis remisque «[[ut aiunt]]» eo tenderes, 
et domi haberes Skeltonum, unum Britannicarum litterarum lumen ac decus, 
qui studici tua <[tua studia]> possit non solum accendere verum <[sed]> etiam 
iuvare <[consummare]>. Bene vale «[[et bonas litteras splendore tuo 
illustra, auctoritate tuere, liberalitate fove]]». 

[2] The "In laudem angelorum" (Reedijk nos. 34-37) 
Erasmus's cflrm/>zâ! in praise of the angels - a single work comprising a series 
of subsections - was apparently commissioned, for use in a chapel. As it 
happened, the work was not used in the chapel as intended,-*^ and the date of 
the commission remains uncertain. The work has been thought to be a product 
of Erasmus's residence in Paris in the autumn of 1495, but it may in fact be 
earlier. ^^ In any event, the work was printed at Paris in 1496, under Erasmus's 
superintendence, among other early poetry of his in a volume entitled De casa 
natalicia Jesu, Erasmus's first publication in print.-^' Texts of the work also 
occur as the second item in the Egerton manuscript, and in a series of 
sixteenth-century printed books: the Lucubratiunculae aliquot printed by 
Schurer at Strasbourg between September 1515 and November 1517,^^ and 
the Epigrammata and Enchiridion militis christiani printed by Froben at Basel 
in March and July 1518, respectively .-^"^ 



Renaissance et Réforme / 2 1 3 

The text of the work in the Egerton manuscript, here entitled "In laudem 
angelorum," is filled with numerous simple errors, apparently purely mechan- 
ical mistakes made by the manuscript's copyist (e.g., at 34.1 1, 34.51, 34.53, 
34.82, 34.87, 35. 19, 35.25, 35.28, 35.34, 36.3, 36. 1 3, 37. 1 8, and the transpo- 
sition of hoc and haec at 37.33). The other eariy text of the poem, that printed 
in 1496 in the De casa natalicia, manifests a similar rate of mechanical error 
on the part of compositors involved in its production. Except in four instances, 
of orthographical variation that seem likely to have occurred independently 
in both the 1496 and the Egerton manuscript never perpetuates the errors of 
the 1496 text. Rather, as does the rest of the subsequent textual tradition, the 
Egerton manuscript, even while introducing its own peculiar errors, regularly 
corrects the 1496 errors (e.g., at 34.57, 34.60, 34.67, 34.72, 35.6, 35.1 1 [bis], 
35.18, 35.55, 36.1 1, 36.20, 37.30, 37.35, 37.43). 

The Egerton manuscript introduces errors of its own; but it also corrects 
errors of the antecedent, 1496 text, and it attests independently of the ante- 
cedent text a series of seemingly authorial changes to the poem that recur also 
in the later printed editions. Six readings of the 1496 text that are plausible, 
i.e., non-erroneous and not patently unauthorial readings, change in the later 
printed editions (at 34.33, 34.39, 34.54, 34.93, 37.21, and 37.31). The nature 
of these differences between the 1496 texts and the later printed editions 
necessitates presupposing intelligent, creative, i.e., most plausibly authorial, 
intervention in the work; and each of these plausibly authorial revisions or 
corrections that appear in the printed editions of 1503 and later occurs also in 
the Egerton manuscript. 

In addition, the Egerton manuscript "In laudem angelorum" has some 
eighteen plausible readings that are unique to it, non-erroneous readings that 
occur in neither the fifteenth- nor the sixteenth-century printed texts. Of these 
plausible readings unique to the Egerton manuscript, one is probably a worse 
reading than that of the printed texts (37.21); nine are more or less indifferent 
from the readings of the printed texts (i.e., 34.7, 34.61 : metuant, 34.77, 35.17, 
35.31, 37.7, 37.25, 37.33: Querit and 37.73) - no reason for preferring the 
one over the alternative is apparent in these cases; and in the remaining eight 
instances, the unique Egerton readings appear preferable, on some stylistic 
basis or other (34.8 1 , 35.42, 36. 1 0, 36. 1 1 : multis, 36. 1 7, 36.32, 37.49-60, and 
the manuscript's subtitles). Minor instances of such preferable unique 
Egerton readings include "ferus ille," in place of "metuitque" at 35.42, where 
the Egerton reading reduces the number of finite verbs and conjunctions, 
which otherwise clutter the stanza (35.41-44: "Vidit obliquis oculis 
volantem/ Dextero celo metuitque latis/ Incubans terris draco luridoque/ 



214/ Renaissance and Reformation 

Palluit ore"), as well as introducing a pointed contrast between the "ferus ille 
... draco" and the fear the angel's approach awakens in him; likewise, the 
Egerton reading "Rectius nos te colimus," in place of "Nos magis nos te 
colimus" at 36. 1 7, where the Egerton reading eliminates a pointless emphasis 
on the verb's subject. 

The most significative of these unique Egerton variants is the manuscripts 
treatment of the poem's subsections.^'' All texts concur in providing a single 
general title for what turns out to be a poem built of more or less discrete sections. 
The 1496 text sets at the beginning of the poem: "Carmen ad orationem solutam 
plurimum accedens: Ode dicolos hendecasyllaba Sapphica in laudem 
beatissimorum angelorum féliciter incipit;" under this rubric follow a first section 
headed "Invocatio propositionem complectens" (equivalent to Reedijk's no. 34); 
a second section headed "De singulari laude Gabrielis Archangeli" (Reedijk's 
no. 35); a third section headed "De singulari laude Raphaelis" (Reedijk's no. 36); 
and a fourth section headed "De universis angelis" (Reedijk's no. 37). The 
difficulty with this 1 496 arrangement is that, although most of the ninety-six lines 
of verse in its disproportionally long first section are devoted to praise of St. 
Michael, as subsequent sections are devoted to praise of other angels, the heading 
of the section, "Invocatio propositionem complectens," does not mention him. 
The 1496 editions' failure to distinguish the poem's "Invocatio," which the 1496 
title does mention, from a subsection in praise of Michael, that the 1496 title does 
not mention as such, is repeated in all subsequent editions. The later printed 
editions, of 1503-1518, address this problem in part, by offering as title for the 
whole: "In laudem Michaelis et angelorum omnium," and by omitting to mention 
or distinguish the "Invocatio" with which the poem begins. But only the Egerton 
manuscript's treatment of the whole poem and its subsections meets the work's 
internal requirements: it calls the whole "In laudem angelorum," and it sets the 
"Invocatio" (= Reedijk 34.1-16) apart from a section in praise of Michael (= 
Reedijk 34.17-ad finem) by inserting the subtitle "De Michahele" between the 
two; for the poem's other three subsections, on Gabriel, Raphael, and all angels, 
the Egerton manuscript adheres to the practices of the printed editions, setting 
off each from the others with subheadings. 

Inasmuch as the Egerton manuscript elsewhere independently attests plau- 
sibly authorial revisions of the "In laudem angelorum" that the later printed 
texts confirm, it is at least possible that these other non-erroneous readings 
unique to the Egerton manuscript may also be authorial revisions, but ones 
not attested by the later printed tradition for some reason or other. Over half 
of the unique Egerton readings are at least as good as the readings of the rest 
of the tradition; some seem fairly clearly to be improvements over the texts 



Renaissance et Réforme / 215 

transmitted in printed editions; and one of them - the manuscript's represen- 
tation of the thing as a single whole poem, entitled "In laudem angelorum," 
subdivided into a sixteen-line proem and four additional sections, on Michael, 
Gabriel, Raphael, and all angels - seems to capture authorial intention like 
no other representation of the work. 

The evidence suggests that the original version of Erasmus's poem, of 
about 1495, represented only imperfectly by the printed editions of it of 1496, 
subsequently underwent revision and correction. A comparatively more thor- 
oughgoing correction and revision of it is attested by the Egerton manuscript; 
and because this campaign of work on the poem is so attested, it probably 
would have taken place prior to or during Erasmus's visit to England in 1499. 
An independent, less thoroughgoing but in the event not altogether different 
set of revisions and corrections of the 1496 original was later made, and 
appears in the later printed texts, beginning in 1503. The earliest revised 
printed text, of 1503, was probably produced from a marked-up copy from 
one of the 1496 printed editions, without access to or complete recollection 
of anything like the Egerton manuscript text, and it incorporates only a simpler 
sort of correction and revision; the more substantive and extensive of the 
revisions attested by the Egerton manuscript remained otherwise unattested. 

Here follows a collation of the Egerton manuscript variants, excluding 
variants of orthography, for the "In laudem angelorum," with the texts as 
printed by Reedijk, the Egerton readings following the bracketed lemmata.^^ 
Variants marked with an asterisk were not reported by Reedijk. 

*Tit.] In laudem angelorum 34.1 Michaele] Michael 34.7 fulgente] 
stellante *34.1 1 Applicet] Applice *34. 13 Luridae] Luride inter 34. lo- 
ll ponit Eg. De Michahele 34.23 Utve] Utque *34.39olim] idem exciebis] 
excitabis *34.51 Fulminisque] Fulminis *34.53 terret] terre 34.54 
Beluae] Bellue 34.61 Ergo] Deinde trépident] metuant 34.77 Laetus 
idcirco] Ergo certatim 34.8 1 celebrantur] referuntur *34.82 res] des *34.87 
terimus] terminus 34.90 vocablumj vocabulum *inter 34.96 et 35.1 ponit 
£g. Gabrielis laus 35.17 canendo] canentes *35. 19 nih] nihil *35.25Tum] 
Tu *35.28 Deligit] Delegit 35.31 ne ille sciscat] sentiat ne *35.34 placido] 
placito 35.42 metuitque] ferus ille mrer 35.60 er 36.1 ponit Eg. Raphahelis 
laus *36.3 Tu te] Tute 36.10multa] longa *36.1 1 ac longis] multis 36.13 
Phoebumque] Phebum 36.17 Nos magis] Rectius //iré-r 36.24^-/37.1 ponit 
Eg. De angelis in genere 37.7 plenam] pulchram 37. 1 7 quondam] quoniam 
37.18rutilabat] rutilabit 37.21 lam pares] Compares 37.32 Decidit] Depluit 
37.33 Pugnat] Querit hoc] hec haec] hoc *37.35 tundat] tondat 49-60] 
57-60, 49-56 37.72 Christigenarum] Christicolarum 



216/ Renaissance and Reformation 

[3], [4], and [5] The three Parisian epigrams (Reedijk, no. 38; Smith, no. 15; 
and Reedijk, no. 39) 

The texts of these three epigrams transmitted in the Egerton manuscript 
appear to stand halfway between original versions and the versions printed in 
the early sixteenth century. The poems - two by Erasmus, [3] and [5], and 
one by Robert Gaguin, [4] - would most likely have circulated hand to hand 
in Paris, in ephemeral manuscript copies, in the period just after Erasmus's 
arrival in Paris, by September 1495,^^ at least among Erasmus, Gaguin, and 
Fausto Andrelini, the third party immediately interested in them. The epigram 
by Gaguin does not seem to survive otherwise than in the Egerton manu- 
script;-^^ but fairly soon after their first composition and circulation, the two 
poems by Erasmus were printed in 1496, in Erasmus's De casa natalica 
collection, along with the "In laudem angelorum" and other pieces. These 
1496 texts appear to be the earliest extant ones of the Erasmian poems, but 
they are not the only printed ones; the poems were reprinted in different 
versions, among Erasmus's collected epigrammatic verse in the 1507 
Adagiorum collectanea printed by Bade at Paris and again in the 1518 
Epigrammata printed by Froben at Basel. The Egerton manuscript texts of 
Erasmus's two poems share with the 1496 texts some eight readings, all them 
plausible, probably authorial readings, that were later changed when the 
poems were reprinted in the sixteenth century (38.3, 38.4, 38.24, 39.3, 39.15, 
39.26, 39.3 1 , and 39.32-33).^*^ Most telling of these is perhaps the absence 
from the 1496 text and the Egerton manuscript of an entire couplet (treated 
by Reedijk as 39.32-33) and the revision of the end of the preceding line 
(39.3 1 ) necessitated by the insertion of the couplet in texts of 1507 and later. 
The passage in the 1496 and the Egerton manuscript texts reads: 

Ille quidem felix agit ocia, sed Scipionis 
Ocia, pulchri plena negoci. 

while in the sixteenth-century printed editions it reads: 

Ille quidem felix agit ocia, qualia quondam 

32 Scipiades agitare solebat 

33 Urbe procul tacitis solus, neque solus, in agris, 

Ocia pulchri plena negoci. 

(Reedijk, 39.31-34) 

Both versions of the passage are satisfactory, but the later version by no means 
represents careless or casual alteration of the earlier one. The new couplet, in 



Renaissance et Réforme / 2 1 7 

the altered setting, appears to be a revision of the 1496 version of the poem 
that had not yet been, made by the time of the genesis of the Egerton 
manuscript; the other readings similarly shared between the 1496 and Egerton 
texts in contrast to the later printed texts - albeit that they are less substantive 
variants and consequendy admit discrimination less surely - are probably 
similariy changes made to the poems only comparatively late. 

The Egerton manuscript also has a dozen readings unique to it, not counting 
its treatment of the titles of the poems, which each of the texts treats differently 
from all of the others. Seven or either of these unique readings represent 
results of simple mechanical error, almost certainly due only to the peculiar 
competence of the person who wrote the Egerton manuscript and so are of no 
textual import (38.25, 39.2, 39.6, 39. 13, 39.47, 39.49, 39.5 1-52, and possibly 
39.25). The rest are minor variants, of single terms (39.35, 39.36, 39.40, 
39.59, and, again, possibly 39.35). The best of them, which tends to suggest 
that at least some of these unique Egerton readings are authorial, is the 
replacement of the redundancies of the phrase "vagus errat" with the (admit- 
tedly unclassical) "correptat" (39.36); in any case, all of these unique, 
non-erroneous Egerton variants are of a sort that would appear to have been 
created more or less casually, but with some care and thought, in the process 
of recopying the poems. None of these peculiarities of the Egerton manuscript 
seems to have been of sufficient significance - granted for the moment that 
they are authorial - to have been remembered when the poems were being 
prepared for republication later among Erasmus's other epigrams. 

Such was not the case, however, with the preponderance of the Egerton 
manuscript's differences from the 1496 texts. In thirty-one instances, the 
Egerton manuscript offers readings differing from those printed in 1496, that 
did then reappear in the printed texts of the sixteenth century (38.5, 38.9, 
38.1 1, 38.27, 39.1 [bis], 39.5, 39.9, 39.1 1 [bis], 39.12 [bis], in omitting the 
couplet that in 1496 followed 39.12, 39.13 [bis], 39.17, 39.22, 39.23, 39.27, 
39.35, 39.39, 39.43 [bis], 39.44, in adding the couplet 39.47^8 that had not 
occured in 1496, 39.49, 39.56, 39.57, 39.59, 39.60, and in omitting the couplet 
that in 1496 had followed 39.60 to conclude the poem).'*^ No more than five 
of these readings shared between the Egerton manuscript and the texts in later 
printed collections of epigrams simply correct evident errors of the 1 496 texts 
(39.17, probably 38.5, and possibly the variants of word order of 39.57 and 
39.59-60); the rest are substantive revisions to the versions of the poems 
printed in 1496, including several that involved rewriting whole lines and 
couplets (e.g., following 39.12, at 39.27, 39.35, 39.39, 39.44, 39.47-48, and 
following 39.60). The better part of the final versions of these poems - the 



218 / Renaissance and Reformation 

versions in the sixteenth-century printed collections of Erasmus's epigrams 
- made its earliest appearance in the Egerton manuscript. 

Erasmus's epigrams for Gaguin and Andrelini survive in three versions, 
each with its own integrity, and each evidently authorial. The original versions 
are attested by the 1496 printed book; and the final versions - final in the 
sense that Erasmus cannot be shown to have fiddled with the poems any 
further - appeared first in 1507, when Erasmus first saw printed his collected 
epigrammatic verse. Between these two publications in print, Erasmus would 
seem to have circulated intermediate versions of the poems, as attested by the 
Egerton manuscript. Albeit impossible to be conclusive about the date of the 
Egerton manuscript - its exact chronological fit between or otherwise in 
relation to the printed books of 1496 and 1507 - the manuscript is in textual 
terms intermediate between them, sharing textual features with both. The 
intermediate versions attested by the Egerton manuscript perpetuated a com- 
paratively small number of features otherwise distinctive of the 1496 ver- 
sions, while also changing the 1496 versions extensively. The final versions 
perpetuated the better part of the revisions introduced at the intermediate 
stage; effectively discarded a few minor readings, which by consequence 
remained peculiar to the intermediate versions; and introduced additional, 
albeit comparatively few, changes of their own, altering some passages that 
the intermediate versions had retained from 1496. The greatest difference is 
between the initial and intermediate versions, between which the greatest 
amount of revisions was done; the final versions represent only a comparative 
minor retouching of the intermediate versions for republication. 

Again: here follows a collation of the Egerton manuscript variants, exclud- 
ing variants of orthography, for Erasmus's epigrams for Gaguin and 
Andrelini, with the texts as printed by Reedijk, the Egerton readings following 
the bracketed lemmata."^' Variants marked with an asterisk were not reported 
by Reedijk. 

*38.r/r.] Hendescasillabum carmen 38.3 trepidaeque pailidaeque] 
trepideque pallideque post corr. 38.4 Necnon Parmeno uti] Ac Parmeno 
velut 38.24 ille] ore 2,%.15]deest 

*2>9.Tit.] In Gaguinum et Faustum Herasmus *39.2 in herbal desunt *39.3 
Errabam] Errarem *39.6 peroso] perose *39.13 occupo] occupe *39.15 
devinctus] devotus 39.25 ipsi] illi *39.26 ac] atque 39.31 qualia quon- 
dam] sed Scipionis 39.32-33] desunt 39.35 Quippe] Nunc 39.36 vagus 
errat] cooreptat 39.40 Agresti] Buccolica *39.47 placidos] placidas 
*39.49 tecum] demum 39.51-52] desunt 39.59 arundine] Appolline 



Renaissance et Réforme / 219 

[6], [7], and [1 1] The "Ad Skeltonum carmen" (Reedijk no. 46) and the 
Vergilian Epigram (Reedijk no. 44) 

Besides Robert Gaguin' s epigram to Erasmus and Fausto Andrehni, two other 
poems are known only from the Egerton manuscript. The one is a poem 
addressed to and in praise of John Skelton, written out in full following 
Erasmus's epigram to Gaguin and Andrelini, under the title "Carmen 
extemporale" [6], the first three Hnes of which, followed by the annotation 
"ut habetur," were again copied out at the end of the manuscript, under the 
title "Ad Skeltonum carmen ex tempore" [11]. The other is an epigram in the 
voice of Vergil [7] - who praises the work of Augustin Vincent Caminade, 
and damns that of Paul Hemmerlin,'^- on the text of his poetry - copied out 
following the "Ad Skeltonum." 

Both poems appear to have been written in the fifteenth century, the 
Vergilian epigram in 1498,"^-^ and the "Ad Skeltonum," extemporaneously 
according to its titles, during Erasmus's English sojourn in 1499-1500. The 
Vergilian epigram was occasioned by the publication of a pair of rival editions 
of Vergil at Paris in the same year, 1498, the one by a person - Caminade - 
on whom Erasmus was financially dependent from time to time, during the 
period July 1497 - December 1500. The epigram would have served to repay 
Caminade, for benefactions done to Erasmus, and to strengthen the associa- 
tion between them. Probably, it first circulated in Paris more or less privately, 
passed hand to hand in ephemeral manuscript copies, posted publicly, or 
inscribed in copies of the book in question. Its subsequent republication, by 
means of its inclusion in a collection like the Egerton manuscript, would have 
served to give notice to such a collection's English audience of the extent of 
Erasmus's Parisian connections, as do also the suite of epigrams included in 
the collection that had passed among Erasmus, Gaguin, and Andrelini in Paris. 

The "Ad Skeltonum" appears to have been similar in purpose, albeit different 
in occasion: something written to ingratiate Erasmus with Skelton. Skelton was 
Prince Henry's tutor during Erasmus's first visit to England, a position carrying 
with it some status and influence, and Skelton was present in this capacity when 
More brought Erasmus to visit the royal household at Eltham in 1499.^ 
Erasmus's "Prosopopoeia Britanniae," also written extemporaneously, and cer- 
tainly occasioned by this visit to Eltham palace, also makes mention of Skelton, 
likewise in flattering terms. But there is no evidence of any contact between 
Erasmus and Skelton subsequent to their meeting in 1499. 

Both the Vergilian epigram for Caminade and the effusion for Skelton 
would appear to have served short-term local ends for Erasmus, to earn 



220 / Renaissance and Reformation 

himself the favour of the two men, each of whom was already comparatively 
well established, in a locale in which Erasmus was seeking a place for himself. 
After 1498-1499, Erasmus' financial situation improved and his reputation 
grew, whereas Caminade remained obscure and comparatively impoverished, 
and Skelton lost his standing at court when he left the royal household in about 
1502. The inclusion of these two apparently early poems of Erasmus in the 
Egerton manuscript makes most sense, then, if the manuscript is early, or 
represents a collection of Erasmian pieces assembled early in his career, by 
about 1500. After that date, interest in the two poems, on the part of Erasmus 
or anyone else, would have been minimal; in fact neither of the poems was 
put into print, by Erasmus or anyone else, until 1923.'*'' 

Nothing needs be added to the representations of these poems in Smith 
(whose edition is most like the manuscript, except that he gives 
"Castaldumque" in place of ms. "Casthalidumque" at 46.4 and "Apollo" in 
place of ms. "Appollo" at 46.8), in Ferguson and Reedijk (who classicize and 
otherwise 'correct' the orthography), and in Vredeveld, "Erasmus' Poetry," 
pp. 156-157 and 159-160; except to note that the text of 46.1-3 recopied at 
the end of the manuscript (i.e., item [11]) does not differ from the other copy 
of it in the manuscript (i.e., the first three lines of item [6]); the peculiar title 
given the three-line fragment here and the note at the end of it are quoted 
above. 

[8] The "Ad Gaguinum de suis rebus" (Reedijk no. 40) 

Like the other poems in the Egerton manuscript for or by Robert Gaguin, the 
poem later printed as the "Ad Gaguinum de suis fatis querela" was written 
fairly soon after Erasmus's first arrival in Paris. Since it was not included in 
the De casa natalica collection, along with Erasmus's other poems for 
Gaguin, printed in Paris in January 1496, the poem is presumed to postdate 
that publication; other evidence suggests that it had probably been written by 
May 1496, when a personal copy would have been provided Gaguin, and other 
manuscript copies may have circulated hand to hand as well."*^ In any event, 
the poem was printed in January 1497 with the Sylva odarum of Willem 
Hermans - a long-time friend of Erasmus - a volume which Erasmus edited, 
also contributing a dedicatory letter to it, addressed to Henry of Bergen and 
dated from Paris 7 November 1496.'*^ 

There is little in the surviving textual evidence to suggest that Erasmus (or 
anyone else) ever much reworked this poem, at any point after its initial 
composition and printed publication in January 1497. The four at least 
potentially authorized and authoritative texts of the poem - those in the 1497 



Renaissance et Réforme / 22 1 

Hermans Sylva Odarum, in the Egerton manuscript, in the 1507 Adagiorum 
collectanea, and in the 1518 Epigrammata - differ from one another only 
incidentally. In the poem's fifty-two lines, there are differences among the 
four texts at only fourteen places; with the exception that the 1497 text 
apparently twice omits whole lines, these differences among the four texts 
are never matters of more than single words. Furthermore, nine or ten of the 
fourteen variants are mechanical errors, of some copyist or compositor (40.6, 
40.22, 40.26, 40.28, 40.32, 40.46 [bis], 40.47, 40.52, and probably 40.24); 
those that remain - differences between ned, non, and neque (40.8, 40.9), and 
between toties and totiens (40.26) - may well be mechanical errors too, and 
are not in any case intrinsically interesting, nor informative, with the possible 
exception of an Egerton manuscript variant in a line omitted from the 1497 
publication. 

Here as elsewhere, the Egerton manuscript introduces its own errors into 
the text (e.g., 40.6, 40.22), but at the same time it also corrects errors of its 
antecedent, in this instance, the 1497 printed text (40.28, and possibly also 
40.9 and 40.24). Most informatively, the Egerton manuscript supplies, evi- 
dently out of its own resources, two lines that do not occur in the 1497 text, 
but which do appear in the sixteenth century editions (40.47 and 40.52);"^^ in 
one of them, the Egerton manuscript reads "Nee cedent miseris pectora 
casibus" where the later printed editions read "gravibus" (40.52). Neither of 
the lines could have reached the Egerton manuscript via the 1497 edition, and 
the variant version of the one could not have come to it from the sixteenth- 
century editions. The Egerton manuscript is not the earliest of the texts of the 
"De suis fatis;" if it antedates 1507, as seems probable, it is the earliest 
complete text of the poem, supplying the lines omitted in 1497; in any case, 
the manuscript's ability to supply the two lines, in the form in which it does, 
again bespeaks an independence from other sources of textual information 
and an independent access to authoritative documents. 

Again: here follows a collation of the few Egerton manuscript variants in 
the "De suis fatis," excluding variants of orthography, with the texts as printed 
by Reedijk, the Egerton readings following the bracketed lemmata."*^ Variants 
marked with an asterisk were not reported by Reedijk. 

*40.r/7.] Ad Gaguinum de suis rebus *40.6 teneras] teneas *40.8 Nee] 
Non *40.22 certo] certe *40.25 Sullae] Scylle *40.26 toties] totiens 46 
Quaeve] Quove *40.52 gravibus] miseris 



222 / Renaissance and Reformation 

[9] The "Contestatio salvatoris" (Reedijk no. 47) 

It is generally recognized that a verse monologue, in the voice of Christ, who 
chastizes humankind's neglect of him, exists in two versions by Erasmus, a short 
form, the "Contestatio Salvatoris ad hominem sua culpa pereuntem," which 
occurs in the Egerton manuscript, and a longer one, the "Expostulatio lesu cum 
homine suapte culpa pereunte" (Reedijk, no. 85), repeatedly put into print in the 
sixteenth-century.^^ In kind, the differences between the "Contestatio" and the 
"Expostulatio" are similar to those between other Egerton manuscript versions 
and the cognate printed texts, embracing both large-scale changes and local 
stylistic improvements. The most substantive differences between the two ver- 
sions are reflected in their lengths; like the printed version of the 1499 letter to 
Prince Henry, the printed "Expostulatio" is an amplification of the "Contestatio," 
a thing about three times as long again. The order of lines of the "Contestatio" 
was kept intact, and among the original lines were inserted a series of wholly 
new passages, including a passage of sixteen lines subjoined after what had been 
the end of the thing in the short version (85.75-90). 

Only five lines of the "Contestatio" (47.3-4, 13-14, and 19) were wholly 
discarded from the "Expostulatio;" eleven of the twenty-eight lines of the 
short version differ not at all from their counterparts in the longer poem (47.8 
= 85.20, 47.10-12 = 85.22-24, 47. 15-16 = 85.3 1-32, and 47.24-28 = 85.70- 
74); the rest were variously altered, much or only slightly. In most instances, 
these local alterations functioned to refit the old lines for reuse in contexts 
created by the new lines; in others, however, the changes appear to be 
considered improvement, that is, to represent the sort of verbal polishing that 
other poems of Erasmus seem also to have undergone for appearances in print. 
For example, the printed editions' phrase "implacabilis ulto iniqui" (85.67) 
is more precise in meaning than the Egerton manuscript's "vindexque severus 
iniqui" in the cognate line (47.23); and its verbs "rapit" and "ardet" (85.1 1- 
12) are more vivid and emphatic than the verbs in the same couplet of the 
shorter version: "capit" and "amat" (47.5-6).^' 

The long version made its first known appearance c. 1 5 1 1 , in a printed book 
comprising a series of poems that Erasmus wrote at the behest of John Colet, 
for use in Colet' s recently edified St. Paul's School; this set of poems "in 
schola Coletica pronuncianda," including the "Expostulatio," was thereafter 
frequently reprinted, in editions authorized and corrected by the poem's 
author.^- The short version survives only in the Egerton manuscript, and its 
occurrence here tends to suggest an early date of composifion for it, relative 
to the printed editions of c. 15 1 1 and later: the poems attested uniquely by the 



Renaissance et Réforme / 223 

Egerton manuscript are ail early ones, written in the fifteenth century, and 
none of the other Egerton manuscript writings that were put into print would 
appear, by the internal, textual evidence, to be later than the first decade of 
the sixteenth century. The nature of the difference between the "Contestatio" 
and the "Expositio" likewise suggests that both versions and their publication 
originated in Erasmus's initiative, and that the short version is in the earlier 
version, the basis for later amplification and subject to authorial polishing. 
The subtitle given the "Contestatio" in the Egerton manuscript - "Carminus 
futuri rudimentum" - tends to confirm the implication of the textual evidence, 
that the short version, an authorial version, came first. The information that 
the "Contestatio" was "carminus futuri rudimentum," the groundwork, in 
effect, for a poem yet to be, can only have come from Erasmus, an author 
conscious already at the time he circulated the "Contestatio," of an intention 
to rework it, to make of this rudimentary draft something greater. 

The Egerton manuscript text of the "Contestatio" has already been reported 
thoroughly, by Smith, Ferguson and Reedijk; the following cautionary remarks 
only seem called for. Smith's is here again the most diplomatic text. The last 
word of the title is "rudimentum," not "rudimenta:" the first word of the poem 
seems certainly, by light of scribal practice elsewhere, to be "Qum," not "Quin;" 
and the manuscript regularly spells "qum" and "qur" (47.1, 8, 17, 18, 20) what 
Smith gives as "quum" and "quur," and Ferguson and Reedijk give as "cum" 
and "cur." The manuscript's reading at 47.6 is "hac," which all have corrected 
silently to hanc\ and, contrary to what Reedijk reports, 47.1 1 reads "sapiencia" 
(as also in the cognate line 85.23) rather than "patientia."'^^ 

[10] The "In laudem Annae" (Reedijk no. 22) 

Erasmus's poem in praise of St. Anne, mother of Mary, the "In laudem 
Annae," was a presentation piece for Anna van Borssele, Lady of Veere. 
Erasmus visited her at Tournehem before visiting England in 1499-1500, and 
probably again just after;^"^ his friend Jacob Batt was in her household, as her 
son's tutor, and Erasmus continuously entertained hopes of benefitting from 
her patronage, up until the time of her remarriage and Batt' s death in 1502.'^-'' 
He presented the poem to her with a dedicatory letter dated January 1 50 1 ; but 
the poem was not printed for some years, until 1518, when, in March, it was 
printed by Froben in the Epigrammata and, in July, it was reprinted, again by 
Froben, in the first edition of the Enchiridion. 

In the dedicatory letter addressed to the Lady Anna, with which he prefaced 
the poem, Erasmus claimed that the "In laudem Annae" was "carmen vel 
rithmos pofius a me puero admodum lusos; nam iam inde a tenellis unguiculis 



224 / Renaissance and Reformation 

eius Divae pietate flagravi."^^ The claim may be compounded of disingenu- 
ous flattery in some part; it might also, on the other hand, be true that, by 
1501, the poem had already been in existence for some time,^^ and the extant 
textual evidence indicates that the poem underwent revision at some point in 
the course of its publication history. 

The text of the "In laudem Annae" printed and reprinted in 1518 differs from 
that transmitted by the Egerton manuscript, particularly significantly at the 
poem's conclusion. There are only about a dozen differences between the 
manuscript and the printed texts, and five to seven of these are evidently 
mechanical errors of transmission (22.3 1 , 22.38, 22.52, 22.65, 22.74, and prob- 
ably 22.39 and 22.68 as well). For the rest of the variants involving single words 
or brief phrases, the readings of the printed texts appear to be improvements, by 
comparison with the basically sound readings of the Egerton manuscript (22. 12, 
22.35, 22.57, and 22.63). For example, in the phrase "hinc leti lares/ lunctis 
revisunt gressibus" (22.63), the "leti" of the manuscript is replaced by "modicos" 
in the printed editions, a reading that yields a metrically more supple line as well 
as giving greater point to the passage. Of course, the angel's announcement of 
Anna's pregnancy would make the aged couple leti; "laetus stupor" of the 
previous line but one (22.61) is the more striking image for their response, and 
to repeat the same term two lines later only detracts from its effect; moreover, 
the couple's humility - their return to their "modicos lares," even as exalted as 
the angel's visit has made them - is a point worthy to bear some emphasis, for 
purposes of moral doctrine. 

The difference of greatest substance, between the manuscript and the 
printed texts, occurs at the poem's conclusion. In the printed versions, the "In 
laudem Annae" ends with a question and a twenty-line answer to it: 

Fit Anna filiae parens. 
Nee filiae cuiuslibet, 
Sed filiae quae fertilis 
Eademque virgo gigneret. 
At quern beata gigneret? 
Summi parentis filium, 
Qui sceptra terrae et aetheris 
Cum patre habet communia 
(22.71-78) 

and so forth, at some length. The Egerton manuscript text neither asks nor 
answers the question, wanting the interrogatory line as well as the bulk of 
what follows it, to conclude more summarily: 



Renaissance et Réforme / 225 

Sed filiae quae fertilis 
Eademque virgo gignere<t> 
Summi parentis filium. 

The conclusion of the printed texts only amplifies the paradoxes of the faith 
already articulate at the end of the manuscript versions, those of the virgin birth, 
of a son who is also his parent's parent, with a focus on the Virgin and on Christ 
not otherwise apparent in Erasmus's poem about St. Anne. In the absence of the 
printed texts, there would be no reason to suspect defects about the concise ending 
that the manuscript puts to the poem, which is coherent as its stands.^^ 

It is difficult to place the making of these changes to the poem in time - the 
local verbal improvements and the amplification of its conclusion. The Egerton 
version may be juvenile version of the poem to which Erasmus seems to allude 
in his letter to Anna van Borssele, which Erasmus improved and amplified before 
presenting it to her in 1501. The altemative is to imagine that the Egerton 
manuscript version is essentially the same version as was presented to Erasmus's 
prospective benefactor in 1501, and the revisions may have been made consid- 
erably later, with a view to printing the poem, as was done in 1 5 1 8. In either case, 
the textual evidence favours an hypothesis of the circulation of two versions of 
Erasmus's "In laudem Annae," a briefer one circulated at least in England in 
1499-1500, whereby it could have come to the Egerton manuscript, and an 
amplified one, printed in 1518, one or the other of which was also published by 
presentation to Anna van Borssele in 1501; the evidence is that, after an initial 
publication of it in one form, Erasmus reworked his poem on St. Anne and 
published it again in a different form. 

Again: here follows a collation of the Egerton manuscript variants, exclud- 
ing variants of orthography, for the "In laudem Annae," with the texts as 
printed by Reedijk, the Egerton readings following the bracketed lemmata.^^ 
Variants marked with an asterisk were not reported by Reedijk. 

22. Tit.\ In dive Anne laudem rithmi iambic! *22.12 Deus] decus 22.31 
mihi] deest 22.35 Vestran] Isthec 22.38 libidinem nihil] nihil libidinem 
ac 22.39 et] deest *22. 52 probe probrum] prole proborum 22.57 invicem] 
mutuo 22.63 modicos] leti 22.65 vana] una 22.68 videt] vidit *22.74 
gigneret] gignere 22.15] deest 22.11 -ad finem]desunt 

University of Ottawa 



226 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Notes 

For counsel and criticism, I am grateful to David Galbraith, Erika Rummel, James Carley, 
and William Stoneman; to Julian Conway, of the British Library's Department of Manu- 
scripts; and to Harry Vredeveld, particularly, for his detailed scrutiny of my research and 
his willingness to make available to me typescripts of forthcoming work of his. 

The paper and notes use the following abbreviations: Allen = P.S. Allen, H.M. Allen 
and H.W. Garrod, eds.. Opus Epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami, 12 vols. (Oxford, 
1 906- 1 958); CE = Peter G. Bietenholz and Thomas B. Deutscher, eds.. Contemporaries of 
Erasmus, 3 vols. (Toronto, 1985-1987); CWE - Collected Works of Erasmus, vols. 1- 
(Toronto, 1974-); Ferguson= Wallace K. Ferguson, Erasmi Opuscula: A Supplement to the 
Opera Omnia (The Hague, 1933); Reedijk = Cornelius Reedijk, éd.. The Poems of 
Desiderius Erasmus (Leiden, 1956); Smith = Preserved Smith, Erasmus: A Study of his 
Life, Ideals and Place in History (1923, rpt. New York, 1962); and Vredeveld, "Erasmus' 
Poetry" = Harry Vredeveld, "Towards a Definitive Edition of Erasmus's Poetry," 
Humanistica Lovaniensia 37 (1988), 1 15-174. 

1. Gore Vidal, "Tennessee Williams: Someone to Laugh at the Squares With," in At 
Home; Essays 1982-88 (New York, 1988), p. 52. 

2. Examples - from Ovid to Shakespeare - are too many to be enumerated; only writers 
whose literary remains are poorly attested still appear to be exceptions. The revision 
of the Eclogues of Mantuan - a leading neo-Latin poet of the period during which 
Erasmus was seeking to make a name for himself in the same field - has been 
graphically documented lately, be Lee Piepho, "Mantuan and Religious Pastoral: 
Unprinted Versions of his Ninth and Tenth Eclogues," Renaissance Quarterly 39 
(1986), 644-672, and "Mantuan on Women and Erotic Love: A Newly Discovered 
Manuscript of the Unprinted Version of his Eclogues," Renaissance Studies 3 (1989), 
13-28. 

3. This thesis has recently been discussed by Bernard Cerquiglini, Eloge de la variante 
(Paris, 1989), esp. pp. 18-29; cf. also Alvin Kernan, Printing Technology, Letters and 
Samuel Johnson (Princeton, 1987), pp. 48-55. 

4. As in the instances - characteristically involving some societal interest in maintaining 
authority - of law. Scripture, patristic and other authorities for religious dogma, and, 
intermittently, the classics. 

5. A striking illustration is embodied in the texts of PietroCarmeliano'sfieatoe Katerinae 
Vita, written 1483-1485. Carmeliano published his work by means of three presenta- 
tion copies, two of which survive (Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, Ms. 
196/102; and Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud Misc. 501). Even in details of decoration 
and mise-en-page, the two surviving manuscripts are as alike as any two handmade 
things can be; and both are autograph copies, written by the poem's author for formal, 
final publication. The texts of Carmeliano's 635-line poem in the two manuscripts 
differ from one another in some seventy-five places, none of them involving errors, 
and over fifty of them substantive. 

6. Cf. Margaret Mann Phillips, r/i^ 'Adages' of Erasmus (Cumhndge, 1964), pp. 41-165. 
Sotheby's has recently brought to auction a copy of the 1523 Froben edition of the 
Adagia that should shed much light on the details of Erasmus's revisionary habits. In 
addition to manuscript corrections, the copy is said to contain some two hundred and 
forty additional passages, in Erasmus's hand, inscribed between lines, in margins, and 



Renaissance et Réforme / 227 

on interleaved slips of paper; many, but not all, of these appear in the next edition of 
the Adagia, that of 1526. The copy is described, with numerous illustrations, in the 
catalogue of Sotheby's 20 November 1990 sale. Continental and Russian Books and 
Manuscript, Science and Medicine, lot 397, pp. 208-217. 

7. The manuscript was described summarily in the Catalogue of Additions to the Manu- 
scripts in the British Museum 1854-1875, vol. 2 (London, 1877), for 1854, p. 837; 
notice of it was published by Allen in 1922, as quoted below; in 1923, the three unique 
items in it were published by Smith, pp. 453-457, along with the manuscript's 
"Contestatio salvatoris" [9]; in 1933, Ferguson, pp. 25-31, republished the same items, 
excepting the non-Erasmian "Epigramma Gaguini," [4]; and the manuscript has been 
used by Reedijk for his 1956 edition of the poems, and by Vredeveld, "Erasmus' 
Poetry," for his castigationes of Reedijk. 

8. The manuscript measures 280 x 188 mm, and does not appear to have ever been 
trimmed much, if at all; the writing occupies a single column, which is unruled, of 
between thirty-six and thirty-two lines, measuring c.215 x c.l45 mm. It is made up of 
five conjugate bifolia, from a single stock of paper, gathered into a single gathering of 
ten leaves, from which nothing appears to be missing. I have been unable to identify 
the watermark in the paper; it would belong among Briquet's class "indéterminés," 
though it does not appear there. The nearest thing to it I have seen is Briquet no. 6702 
(found in Northern Italian papers of c. 1489-1491), which is not in fact very much like. 
The statement that the manuscript is "illuminated," repeated by Allen, Smith, Reedijk, 
and others, is mistaken. For comparison with the hand of the manuscript, I have used 
the reproductions of Erasmian autographs in CWE, II, 130, and III, 152 and 212 
(examples of 1507 and 1515, respectively); and reproductions of Cambridge, Trinity 
College, Ms. R.9.26 (an example of 1503) and Copenhagen, Kongelige Bibl., Gl. Kgl. 
Samling 96, made available to me by Erika Rummel, from whose advice about 
Erasmus's hand(s) I have benefitted. 

9. For dating the composition of these items, I have relied on the discussions of Allen, 
for the data of [ 1 ], the letter, and on Reedijk's discussions in his headnotes to the several 
poems, except as indicated otherwise. The possible exceptions to the claim that all the 
manuscript's items antedate 1500 in composition are items [9] and [10]. [9], the 
"Contestatio salvatoris," was not printed or otherwise published until c. 1511, when it 
appeared, as the "Expostulatio salvatoris," in a form that differs greatly from the 
Egerton manuscript "Contestatio;" this difference is discussed below. Reasons for 
thinking that the "Contestatio" was written by 1500 are: first, that the "Expostulatio" 
appears to be an amplification of the "Contestatio," rather than the "Contestatio" 
appearing to be an abbreviation of the "Expostulatio," so that the "Contestatio" 
antedates the c. 1511 publication of the "Expostulatio;" and second, less certainly 
informative, that the "Contestatio" occurs in the Egerton manuscript. The claim that 
the composition of the manuscript's item [10], the "In laudem Anne," antedates 1500 
is similarly somewhat ill-founded. Reedijk's reason for believing the poem to have 
been composed "c. 1489" - a passage in the letter Erasmus wrote to cover the poem's 
presentation to Anna van Borssele (Ep. 145), in which Erasmus describes it as "carmen 
vel rhithmos potius a me puero lusos" and claims "a tenellis unguiculis eius Divae 
pietate flagravi" - may be insufficient. The poem may in fact be nearly as late in 
composition as its date of presentation to Anna van Borssele, with Ep. 145, in late 
January, 1501; the best evidence here - but again, it is not good evidence - for a date 



228 / Renaissance and Reformation 

of composition somewhat earlier than that of the poem's presentation to the Lady of 
Veere is the fact that the poem occurs in the Egerton manuscript, again in what appears 
to be draft form. 

10. Others have made "etc." of the manuscript's curious, abbreviated scrawl at this point 
(cf. Vredeveld, "Erasmus' Poetry," p. 154), where I have read an abbreviation for 
"rebus." 

1 I . In the Sotheby's sale catalogue for the second of the sales of Bright's books - the sale 
of his manuscripts, held 18 June 1844 (cf Seymour De Ricci, English Collectors of 
Books and Manuscripts [Cambridge, 1930], p. 107 and n. 3) - Lot 151 (p. 18) is 
described as follows: 

MISCELLANIES. Liber Theoduli cum commento - Aviani Fabulae, on vel- 
lum. Xlllth Century, damaged - Centones Probae, 1481 - Seb. Brant, In 
Thurcum invectiva - Jo. Franc. Pici Mirandulae Hymni. Carmen extemporale 
(ad Jo. Skeltonum), etc. 

According to the annotated copy of this sale catalogue, prepared by Sir Frederic 
Madden and now in the British Library, this miscellaneous Lot 151 - consisting of a 
series of dfstinct manuscripts, independent in origin, no matter whether or not they 
were at the time bound as a single volume - was sold to the bookdealer Thomas Thorpe 
(for two pounds, eleven shillings). 

Some years later, Alexander Dyce, who had published an edition of John Skelton's 
poetry shortly before the Bright sale, in 1843, and who would have had occasion to 
deal with Thorpe, printed a text of the "Ad Skeltonum carmen" (i.e., Reedijk, no. 46), 
in a second, somewhat augmented edition of his The Poetical Works of John Skelton 
(Boston, 1856), pp. Ixvii-lxviii. Dyce says that the text he gives was "transcribed from 
a MS. (in the collection of the late Mr. B.H. Bright,) consisting of Hymni, &c., by Picus 
Mirandula;" but, except for the fact that Dyce here entitles the poem ''Pici Mirandulae 
Carmen Extemporale" his text appears to represent a transcription of the text in 
Egerton 1651, as Harry Vredeveld has shown me. 

After its purchase by Thorpe in 1 844, that portion of Lot 1 5 1 described in the catalogue 
of the Bright sale as "Jo. Franc. Pici Mirandulae Hymni. Carmen extemporale (ad Jo. 
Skeltonum), etc." seems to have come into the possession of Charles Frederick Molini, 
a resident of London, about whom I have been able to discover nothing, except that, 
by a letter of 16 November 1 854, addressed to Madden and now among the minutes of 
acquisitions kept in the departmental records of the British Library (as described and 
later shown to me by Julian Conway, from whose advice I have benefitted much), 
Molini offered to sell to the Library a group of fifteen manuscripts, which he listed 
under the heading "Italian Mss." Among these is one that Molini described in his letter 
as "Mirandola<e> (lo. F. Pici) Hymni Heroici Très - et carmen extemporale ad 
Skeltonum cum comment<o> - small folio, neatly written Ms of XVI. century" (for 
which he was asking nine shillings). These are nearly the same terms as were used in 
the Bright sale catalogue, and the gist of them was at some point written in pencil, 
vertically, in the inner margin of the first folio of Egerton 1561. 
In a memorandum of 24 November 1854, also kept among the departmental minutes 
of acquisitions. Madden noted that he had selected for purchase for the British Museum 
Library seven of the "Italian" manuscripts that Molini was offering; the seven became 
Egerton Mss. 1649-1655. By the time the catalogue of these acquisitions came to be 



Renaissance et Réforme / 229 

printed, it had been established that what had been sold as a manuscript of the poetry 
of the Italian, "Mirandolae (lo. F. Pici)," including the poem ostensibly by Pico "ad 
Skeltonum," and then accessioned as Egerton 1 65 1 , was in fact a collection of writings 
by Erasmus, not Pico. 

12. Ed. Allen, I, 6; CW£ IX, 299-300 (no. 1341a). 

1 3. Allen, IV, xxi. Ferguson, pp. 25-26, H.W. Garrod, "Erasmus and his English Patrons," 
The Library, 5th sen, 4 (1949), 4-5, and Reedijk, p. 202, have concurred with Allen's 
view. 

14. On the other hand, John Skelton seems to have presented his paean on the accession 
of Henry VIII to the king in 1 509 in the form of a rather plain copy indeed, now London, 
P.R.O., E 36/228, fols. 7r-8v: a pair of ungathered sheets of paper, altogether undeco- 
rated, that were folded and endorsed like a letter. The copy is reproduced in P.J. Croft, 
Autography Poetry in the English Language (New York, 1973), I, 6-8. Likewise, there 
is an altogether plain and simple copy, again on paper, of a group of poems by Robert 
Whittinton, now Hatfield House, Cecil Papers 233/8, that may have been presented to 
Henry VIII in 1532. 

15. Most telling of these perhaps is that, having copied out the poem in full once already, 
the copyist of the Egerton manuscript began to copy again at the end of the book 
Erasmus's poem in praise of Skelton [11], stopping here after only three lines, evidently 
having realized by then that a copy of the piece had already been taken. 

16. Ep. 104; Allen, I, 239, 240. 

17. See Paul L. Hughes and James F. Larkin, Tudor Royal Proclamations, vol. 1 (New 
Haven, 1964), 52-54 (nos. 46^7). 

1 8. On Charnock, see CE, I, 300-30 1 . 

19. Ep. 112; Allen, I, 260. 

20. p. 113; Allen, I, 261-265. Cf Vredeveld, "Some 'Lost' Poems of Erasmus from the 
Year 1499," in Fide et Amore: A Festschrift for Hugo Bekker, ed. W.C. McDonald and 
Winder McConnell (Goppingen, 1990), p. 331. 

21. Ep. 113; Allen, 1,264-265. 

22. Vredeveld would characterize these remarks about the "Prosopopoeia Britanniae" as 
"obligatory modesty" on Erasmus's part; as he points out, Erasmus did in fact have the 
poem printed frequently in the sixteenth century and he also mentions it among his 
other acknowledged writings in the Catalogus lucubrationum. 

23. On the basis of this exchange of letters between Erasmus and Sixtinus, Vredeveld, 
"Some 'Lost' Poems," pp. 330-331, makes the same few inferences about the nature 
of what Sixtinus saw; he goes on to argue, pp. 331-337, that the collection seen by 
Sixtinus may have included also Reedijk nos. 1 9-2 1 , which do not occur in the Egerton 
manuscript, in addition to the "In laudem Annae" (Reedijk no. 22) and the "Contestatio 
salvatoris" (Reedijk no. 47), which do. Reedijk, pp. 398-399, discusses the same 
correspondence more pessimistically, as regards what conclusions can be drawn from 
the evidence. 

24. By the time of his departure from Paris in May 1499, Erasmus had seen printed only 
his De casa natalica collection of verse, two additional poems (Reedijk nos. 43 and 
40) and a letter (Ep. 49) in Willem Hermans's 5/7v'« Odarum, and an additional letter 



230 / Renaissance and Reformation 

(Ep. 49), printed and reprinted, in Robert Gaguin's De origine et gestis Francorum. 
On the printing of humanist writing in England at this time, see Carlson "Reputation 
and Duplicity: The Texts and Contexts of Thomas More's Epigram on Bernard André," 
forthcoming in ELH. 

25. Allen, IV, xxi. 

26. For bibliographical descriptions of these two volumes, see F. Vander Haeghen, R. 
Vanden Berghe, and Th. -J. -I. Arnold, Bibliotheca Erasmiana: Adagia (Gand, 1897), 
pp. 1-7 and 10-14; the edition of 1500 was simply reprinted by its publisher in 1505, 
without editorial or authorial intervention. 

27. Some of the printed versions' putative improvements may be only apparent, results of 
errors of the Egerton copyist rather than authorial revision; the absence in the Egerton 
manuscript oi posse, from the phrase "nee quicqum omnino fortium virorum memoriam 
eternam reddere," for example, would seem to be an erroneous omission of the Egerton 
copyist rather than an improvement of the printed versions. 

28. For readings of the printed texts of the various writings of Erasmus discus.sed here and 
below, I have often had to rely on the reports of Allen, Reedijk, and Vredeveld, 
"Erasmus' Poetry;" I have also had the pleasure of examining many of the pertinent 
printed books, in the collections of the Folger Shakespeare Library, the British Library, 
and the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Toronto. 

29. Catalogus lucubrationum; Allen, \, 3-4. 

30. Cf. the discussion of Reedijk. pp. 227-228. In the CWE volume of Erasmus's poems 
(vol. 85, forthcoming), Vredeveld makes a case for dating the poem to the winter or 
early spring of 1491. 

31. The collection was printed and reprinted by Marchand during 1496. the first time 
probably fairly early in the year, the second time with some quantity of verbal and 
orthographical variation; cf. the discussion of Reedijk, pp. 237-238. For description 
of the two books, see the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, vol. VIII (Stuttgart, 1978), 
nos. 9375-9376. 

32. Described in Irmgard Bezzel, Erasmusdrucke des 16. Jahrhunderts in Bayerischen 
Bibliotheken (Stuttgart, 1979), no. 968. 

33. Described in Bezzel, nos. 846, 848-849, and 850-851. The second of these editions, 
that of June 1516, adds to its title page the claim "Ex recognitione authoris." The 
description of these volumes in Reedijk' s "Survey of Editions and Ms. Sources 
Containing Poetry by Erasmus,' p. 369, nos. 188-190, as omitting the poem's section 
on Raphael (Reedijk no. 36), is mistaken. 

34. Described in Bezzel, nos. 912 and 852. 

35. Cf. Vredeveld, "Erasmus' Poetry," p. 150. 

36. Cf. also Vredeveld's castigationes of Reedijk's edition of these poems, "Erasmus' 
Poetry," pp. 150-152. 

37. For the date, see Ep. 43 (and the comments on it in Allen, I, 145-146 and CWE, I, 83), 
a letter from Robert Gaguin replying to a no longer extant letter by which Erasmus is 
thought to have addressed to Gaguin a copy of his poem "Ad Gaguinum nondum 
visum" ([3], Reedijk no. 38). 



Renaissance et Réforme / 23 1 

38. The epigram does not appear among the materials published by Louis Thuasne, Roberti 
Gaguini Epistole et Orationes, 2 vols. (Paris, 1903). 

39. The variant at 38.3, where the Egerton manuscript reads "trepideque pallideque" might 
be regarded, not as a substantive, but simply as an orthographical variant, except that 
the reading is in the manuscript corrected form "trepidaeque pallidaeque," the reading 
of the later printed editions, which the Egerton copyist here first wrote and then 
expunged. 

40. Both the Egerton manuscript and the later printed editions also lack the heuristic 
apparatus that the 1496 editions provide for Erasmus's conversation with his muse ( [5], 
Reedijk, no. 39), that is, the speech-cues "Thalia" and "Herasmus" (in the margin, iuxta 
39. 15 and 39. 1 7, respectively) and the interlinear explanation "Nam hoc carmen et ruri 
et autumno scriptum est" that follows 39.18. The title of the poem in 1496, "Carmen 
lyricum de hystoriis Roberti Gaguini atque eglogis Fausti. Inducit secum loquentem 
Faustinam musam" changes in the later editions to incorporate the interlinear explana- 
tion of the 1496 edition: "In annales Gaguini et eglogas Faustinas carmen ruri scriptum 
et autumno;" and the marginal speech cues disappeared. In general, such change seem 
more likely to be results of a printer's rather than an author's decisions: marginalia 
were more difficult (and so more costly) to do in print than in manuscript, and so would 
have seemed less worth introducing or reproducing to printers and their compositors 
than they would have seemed to scribes or to authors habituated to manuscript 
technology. The textually stable marginalia printed with the "Prosopopoeia Britanniae" 
in the sixteenth century (e.g.. with the texts of the poem in the 1518 Froben 
Epigrammata and the 1506 Bade edition of Erasmus's translations Hecuba et 
Iphigenia, but not with the text in the subsequent Aldine edition of the same materials), 
mentioned only dismissively by Reedijk, p. 248 n., are probably authorial. Cf. 
Vredeveld, "Erasmus' Poetry," pp. 153 and 157-158. 

41. Cf. Vredeveld, "Erasmus" Poetry," pp. 152-154. 

42. On Caminade and his relations with Erasmus, see Franz Bierlaire, "Erasme et Augustin 
Vincent Caminade," Bibliothèque d'humanisme et renaissance 30 (1968), 357-62, and 
CEI, 280-281; on Hemmerlin, see CE, II, 175. 

43. In the forthcoming CWE volume, Vredeveld established July, 1498 as the date of the 
epigram. 

44. On Skelton's tenure as a tutor in the royal household, see Carlson, "Royal Tutors in 
the Reign of Henry VII," forthcoming in The Sixteenth Century Journal. 

45. See above, n. 7. 

46. See Reedijk's discussion, p. 238. 

47. The letter is Ep. 49, Allen, I, 160-164; for bibliographical description of the Hermans 
Sylva odarum, see the Catalogue of Book Printed in theXVth Century Now in the British 
Museum, part VIII (London, 1949), 62-63. 

48. The 1497 edition acknowledges its defectiveness in these passages, by leaving space 
blank on the page where the lines belonged. 

49. Cf. also Vredeveld, "Erasmus' Poetry," pp. 154-156. 

50. Cf. the discussions of Smith, p. 455, Ferguson, p. 28, who suggests that the poem may 
date from Erasmus's "conventual period," and Reedijk, p. 255. 



232 / Renaissance and Reformation 

51. Cf. also 47.9 rogatus with 85.21 roganti. 

52. For bibliographical description of the printed book, see M.E. Kronenberg. 
Nederlandsche Bibliographie van 1500 tot 1540, vol. 2 ('s-Gravenhage, 1940), 330, 
no. 2887; and see also the discussion of Reedijk, pp. 291-293. 

53. Cf. Vredeveld, "Erasmus' Poetry," pp. 160-161. 

54. Cf Ep. 87-90 and 1 20, and the notes on them in Allen, I, 223 and 282-4 and CWE, I, 
174 and 247. 

55. Cf. CE, I, 100-101 and 173-174. 

56. Ep. 145; Allen, I, 345. 

57. In the forthcoming CW£ volume, Vredeveld argues for a date of late 1 490 or early 1491 
for the first version of the poem. 

58. Reedijk misreports the variants at the poem's conclusion, in such a way as to suggest 
that the Egerton manuscript text is defective, a faulty representation of something 
transmitted accurately only in print. He reports that the manuscript simply ends with 
22.76; i.e., that it includes the portending question (22.75) but no more than a line of 
answer to it (22.76) before giving out. In fact, it omits the interrogatory line (22.75) 
but not the next one, which in the manuscript supplies an object for the very "gigneret" 
(22.74), to conclude its text of the poem. Cf. Vredeveld, "Erasmus' Poetry," p. 144. 

59. Cf also Vredeveld, "Erasmus' Poetry," pp. 143-144. 



Politics of John Donne's Devotions Upon 
Emergent Occasions: or, New Questions on 
the New Historicism 



• 



MARY ARSHAGOUNI 



lintered in the Stationers' Register on January 9, 1624,' and dedicated to 
Prince Charles, John Donne's Devotions upon Emergent Occasions tradi- 
tionally has been read as a meditative exercise that moves from a mood of 
anxiety to peace and reconciliation with God.- It has also been interpreted 
as a work that offers pointed political advice to King James, an approach 
that has attracted those whose interests lie in examining the political and 
historical contexts of works. Robert Cooper's 1977 essay, "The Political 
Implications of Donne's Devotions'' for example, interprets the Devotions 
as a warning to the King against falling under the influence of Rome.^ But 
in my view, this new historicist perspective ultimately fails to solve critical 
problems in the work. Much of the difficulty in reading the Devotions along 
these lines arises from faulty assumptions regarding Donne's political ori- 
entation at the time he composed the Devotions, a view that highlights the 
striking politicization of Donne's life and works from as early as 1640. In 
this article, therefore, I would like to re-examine the historical and political 
context of the Devotions, re-consider the way in which Donne's life and 
writings have been politicized, and question the appropriateness of applying 
a new historicist methodology for interpreting a work like the Devotions. 

Let us begin with an examination of the political/historical context that 
Cooper presents and consider whether such a reading is in fact tenable. This 
re-examination is particularly important, for Cooper's interpretation of the 
political role that Donne intended his Devotions to play seems to have become 
the accepted view of Donne's political concerns in early 1624, as Arthur 
Marotti's recent affirmation of Cooper's assertions suggests. In his analysis. 
Cooper finds the traditional meditative view of the Devotions as an account 
of Donne's recovery from sickness and ultimate reconciliation with God 
"insufficient." In Cooper's words, the traditional meditative view of the 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVII, 3 ( 199 1 ) 233 



234 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Devotions "does not explain why Donne chooses to fill the work with an 
almost endless webbing of political imagery." In addition to any spiritual 
movement, he explains, Donne also issues a political warning to King James, 
urging him to be on guard against the Roman Church and the dangers of 
"relapsing" into Catholic idolatry. He develops this argument by describing 
the politically sensitive situation in England in 1623-24 and by noting 
Donne's own personal reasons for taking a subtle approach in warning James, 
not a direct one. As he stresses the unrest that he thinks English protestants 
would have felt in 1623-24 as they anticipated the Spanish match. Cooper 
goes on to suggest that because Donne had "fallen at least once into the king's 
disfavor, [he] was likely to be extremely cautious about any comment he 
might wish to make concerning royal 'inclining to Popery'." Ultimately the 
argument rests on the notion that "Donne could hardly have been unaware of 
these possibilities when he readied the Devotions for the press and prepared 
to dedicate them to Charles Stuart."'* 

All of this may sound appealing at first glance. But Cooper's political 
analysis suffers from an inaccurate description of the historical context of the 
work. First, it accepts Walton's account of the King's displeasure with Donne 
at face value and thus concludes that Donne had in fact fallen into disfavor 
as a result of his pulpit arguments against the Roman Church. Convincing as 
this may sound, the facts do not bear out such a conclusion. As David Novarr 
and Judith Anderson have clearly demonstrated, care must be used in reading 
Walton.'' According to the story in the Life of Donne, Donne "was once, and 
but once, clouded with the King's displeasure ... which was occasioned by 
some malicious whisperers, who had told his majesty that Dr. Donne had put 
on the general humor of the Pulpits, and was become busie in insinuating a 
fear of the Kings inclining to Popery, and a dislike of his government." Other 
interpretations of these facts are beginning to come forward. According to 
Donne's modern biographer, R.C. Bald, for example, "the incident makes a 
pleasant story and is told very circumstantially, but it is suspect none the less." 
He suggests that Walton has perhaps confused this with "a well-authenticated 
incident which occurred in the next reign when Donne was suspect for a brief 
period and successfully cleared himself after an interview with Charles I."^ 
Paul R. Sellin agrees with Walton, that this incident occurred during James' 
reign, but he reads it in an entirely different context. In his view, the king's 
displeasure may have resulted from attempts to discredit Donne, not for 
speaking out against Papism, but rather for speaking out in support of 
Bohemia, following his return to England from the Palatinate and the Neth- 
erlands in 1620, a point to which we will return shortly.^ In brief, Walton's 






I 



Renaissance et Réforme / 235 

suggestion that Donne had been chastized for speaking out against Romanism 
is suspect, and one certainly should be circumspect about basing conclusions 
on it. 

Second, the account of the Directions to Preachers is also subject to 
correction. While Cooper, seconded by Marotti, states that James issued the 
Directions in hopes of quieting the discontent that had arisen as a result of 
the secret trip to Spain that Prince Charies and Buckingham had undertaken, 
this cannot be correct. The Directions were issued on August 4, 1 622, whereas 
Charles and Buckingham did not set off on their voyage until February 28, 
1623. Cooper's inversion of these two events may well result from confusion 
between old and new style dating. The Directions arose, rather, from discon- 
tent over James's failure to respond to the struggle in Europe where danger 
to the Palatinate was growing.^ Though greatly distressed by the threat to 
protestantism in Europe and the failure of his sovereign to respond to the 
crisis, Donne does not permit himself at this time generally to indulge in any 
overt expression of doubt about the King's "constancie in the true reformed 
religion." Although his whole heart may not have been in his "Sermon upon 
the XX. verse of the V. Chapter of the Booke of Judges. Wherein occasion 
was justly taken for the Publication of some Reasons, which his Sacred 
Majestic had been pleased to give, of those Directions for Preachers, which 
hee had formerly sent foorth," preached at Paul's Cross on September 15, 
1622, Donne nevertheless speaks in favor of the King's order, rather than as 
the King's critic.^ In a letter to Sir Henry Goodere written but a week later, 
Donne explains that because many were distressed by the King's orders, he 

had commandment to publish them in a Sermon at the Crosse, to as great a 
Congregation as ever [he] saw together, where they received comfortable 
assurance of his Ma[jes]ties constancy in Religion, and of his desire that all 
men should be bred in knowledge of such things, as might preserve them 
from the superstition of 'Rome'.'^ 

Professing himself pleased with the sermon, the King ordered it printed, and 
called it, according to Doncaster, "a piece of such perfection as could admit 
neither addition nor diminution."" However he may have felt personally, 
Donne never goes so far as to criticize James in this sermon. Quite the 
contrary, he urges patience. In fact, he even complains to Sir Thomas Roe 
that "to conclude the worst upon the first degree of ill is a distilling with too 
hot a fire." He tells Roe as well that "Some weeks after that I preached another 
at the same place, upon the Gunpowder Day; therein I was left more to mine 
own liberty."'- His expression hardly implies that he ran the risk of royal 



236 / Renaissance and Reformation 

displeasure. In case any doubt remains, Donne's Gunpowder Day sermon 
preached "upon the fift of November 1622" best illustrates the contrary. Here 
Donne clearly plays the role of royal apologist. He demonstrates publicly his 
commitment to King James, praising him as the symbol of peace, and the 
heart and breath of the nation. "In the presence of the Head of the whole 
Church, who is All in all," he declares, 

I . . . doe deliver that, which upon the truth of a Morall man, and a Christian 
man, and a Church man, beleeve to be true. That hee, who is 'the Breath of 
our nostrils,' is in his heart, as farre from submitting us to that Idolatry, and 
superstition, which did heretofore oppresse us, as his immediate Predecessor, 
whose memory is justly precious to you, was: Their wayes may be divers, 
and yet their end the same, that is. The glory of God; And to a higher 
Comparison, to her, I know not how to carry it.'-^ 

In light of Donne's own public statements in support of James, it seems hard 
to argue that Donne entertained real fear of James's return to 'popery.' Far 
from criticizing the King, Donne's response to the Directions to Preachers 
expresses explicit faith in James's 'constancie in religion', however much he 
may have been troubled by the events in Bohemia and the fall of Heidelberg 
in September 1622. If anything, the issues and "politics" behind the Devotions 
may be more closely connected with the events in Bohemia than with any real 
fear that James would convert to Catholicism. 

Third, in describing the political climate which existed when Donne wrote 
the Devotions, the analysis put forth by Cooper and Marotti (who describes 
Donne as a "sanctioned religiopolitical spokesman"),'"^ focuses exclusively 
on the possibility of a marriage between Charles and the Spanish Infanta and 
completely ignores the dangers facing protestantism in Europe. Any review 
of contemporary documents and correspondence, whether public or private, 
however, reveals that from 1619 onward the plight of James's daughter and 
son-in-law, the Queen and King of Bohemia, consumed the mind and heart 
of England, including Donne's.'-^ After the fall of Heidelberg in September 
1622, an event which Donne chronicled in his letters to Goodere, attitudes 
towards the Spanish match changed. Whereas before 1623 it had been viewed 
with dread, after the fall of Heidelberg it slowly became intertwined with the 
restoration of the Palatinate in the minds of the English people, their King, 
and their Prince. Indeed, by late 1623 fear of the Spanish match had waned, 
and upon the return of Charles and Buckingham from Spain in October 1623, 
when it was clear that the match was unlikely to proceed, the whole country 
breathed a collective sigh of relief.'^ Rather than encouraging the Papists in 



Renaissance et Réforme / 237 

England, Charles's return seems to have hurt their position. As early as June 
16, 1623, the Venetian' Ambassador in London writes that "the Protestants 
here, laying aside their great repugnance of old, seem better disposed to this 
marriage. This increases the suspicion of the Spaniards that they have been 
assured it will not cause them any prejudice." And on January 3, 1624, John 
Chamberlain writes to Dudley Carleton, "We talke of a proclamation likewise 
shortly to come foorth against priests and Jésuites . . . which makes the papists 
hang downe their heades, and looke for no goode for their tume by this 
parlement."'^ After nearly a decade of real crisis because of the Spanish 
match, why would Donne, in early 1624, in a work dedicated to Charles, 
reverse his position and suddenly attempt to warn James of the dangers of a 
Spanish match that was unlikely to take place anyhow? Even though in 
January 1624 the match had not definitely been called off, it was clear that 
no such marriage would take place before the restoration of the Palatinate, 
and in any event, even the conclusion of such a match in 1624 was not 
necessarily good news for papists. In short, there is no evidence that in early 
1624, precisely at the time Donne readied his Devotions for press, either 
James or Charles would be likely even to go through with a Spanish match, 
much less return the country to the influence of Rome. 

The argument that James would return the country to the influence of Rome 
is faulty in other respects too, for it makes no mention of the troubles afflicting 
James' daughter and son-in-law in Bohemia. This glaring omission under- 
scores two important problems: 1) faulty assumptions regarding Donne's 
political orientation and concerns in early 1624, and 2) the tendency of most 
Renaissance historicists to focus almost exclusively on issues of domestic 
policy at the expense (and at times to the exclusion) of those of foreign policy. 
Let us examine the initial problem first. Many scholars today consider Donne 
a via media Anglican with Catholic leanings arising from his Papist upbring- 
ing - an assumption that is clear in their tendency to view Loyola's Spiritual 
Exercises as Donne's primary model for the Devotions}^ But when one 
re-examines the earliest biographies of Donne, particularly Walton's 1640 
Life of Donne, it becomes clear that Donne's life and writings have been 
politicized from the time of his death and that, consciously or unconsciously, 
modern assumptions generally have followed along these lines. In a recent 
study on Walton's biography of the late churchman, Judith Anderson asserts 
that Walton's "'Life of the holy Dr. Donne [first published in 1640 and revised 
continually until 1675] is an artificial saint's Life - not an untruth certainly, 
but a fiction." Indeed, she goes on to explain, "Walton's role in The Life is 
interpretative, and it is also openly inventive. ... Walton may blend his facts 



238 / Renaissance and Reformation 

with his point of view but the resulting image is one we should recognize as 
artificial, contrived, or even fictional."'*^ What is most striking about the 
portrait of Donne presented in the Life is Walton's interest in presenting a 
holy man with strong ties to the Anglican church. Fittingly, the climax in this 
"story" occurs at the moment of Donne's calling. While the biographical 
methods employed by Walton "leave us with Walton's picture of Donne, a 
real seventeenth-century view of a real life lived in historical time,"-^^ it is 
important to recognize the political biases that would have led Walton in early 
1640 to place Donne strongly in the "Anglican" camp, a perspective that 
assumes that Donne would have focused his attentions on Anglo/Catholic 
issues such as the Spanish match, and not on the profound dangers threatening 
sister Protestant churches in Europe. Despite statements by Donne's son in 
1640 and by more recent scholars that recognize that the political climate had 
changed drastically between 1 624 and 1 640, modem scholars like Cooper and 
Marotti persist in rehearsing assumptions underlying Walton's Life of Donne 
that read Donne as a post-Laudian "Anglican" with strong antipathies to 
radical puritanism in Europe and at home rather than as a pre-Laudian 
clergyman with deep feelings of kinship with suffering protestant churches 
in Europe. In 1624, one could certainly be a Calvinist within the established 
church - indeed, as some argue, the established church was Calvinist.' ' But 
by 1640, on the verge of civil war, the country divided along lines that simply 
did not exist in pre-Laudian times.-- Consequently, a post- 1640 perspective 
often fails to recognize the close affinities that had existed between those who 
served in the Church of England such as Donne and the Calvinist churches in 
Germany and the Low Countries. Unfortunately, this later perspective 
remains the bias of many literary scholars concerned with Renaissance and 
Reformation issues today. 

Let us now turn to the second issue, that of the tendency of Renaissance 
historicists to focus almost exclusively on domestic policy to the near exclu- 
sion of foreign policy concerns. As Professor Sellin has recently recognized, 

a serious flaw in much current historicism, whether "new" or antiquated, is 
its seeming reluctance to connect English literature of the Renaissance and 
early seventeenth century with anything other than domestic politics and 
patronage, almost to the point of effectively excluding from consideration 
even large matters involving foreign policy or relations with the Continent 
and the world abroad.--^ 

While Cooper's attempt to link Donne's politics with concerns of foreign 
policy - the concerns in England with the events occuring in Spain - is a 



Renaissance et Réforme / 239 

welcome change from the traditional approach, Sellin suggests a very differ- 
ent political context and description of Donne's political preoccupations and 
disappointments in the early 1620' s on the eve of his composition of the 
Devotions. After describing Donne's experiences with the mission to the 
Continent in 1619-1620 led by the King's favorite James Hay, Viscount 
Doncaster, Sellin outlines the extreme disappointment that Donne probably 
experienced after Doncaster' s failure to move James to become actively 
engaged in support of the Palatinate.*^'* Rather than manifesting concern for 
the possibility that James might return the country to the influence of Papism 
as Cooper and Marotti had suggested, Donne rather showed concern for 
James' failure to act on behalf of the Palatinate. The distinction is more than 
merely a question of emphasis. In this context, the conclusion that "pohtically 
Donne shared the enthusiasm that Doncaster and Nethersole felt for the 
Bohemian cause, for Frederick's accepting the crown at Prague, and for 
militant support of the Cal vinist Dutch against the house of Spain and Austria" 
demonstrates the passion with which Donne held the plight of the Queen of 
Hearts in 1622, a fervor that deteriorated into extreme disappointment when 
James failed to heed the advice of Doncaster and Donne. Although following 
the mission to the Continent with Doncaster, "Donne was to live another 
decade," he "never went abroad again." More importantly, "in the many crises 
that English foreign policy was soon to undergo, his talents and experience 
were never again put to use in this way."^^ Indeed, rather then showing 
concern for the possibility that James might return the country to Papism, the 
politics behind the Devotions might reflect Donne's extreme disappointment 
at the failure of his mission with Doncaster to the Continent and the failure 
of James to act decisively on behalf of the Palatinate. In this context, as we 
shall see, the Devotions becomes anything but a work offering the kind of 
political advice that Cooper describes. 

If, as I think, Donne's political and religious orientation in 1623-24 
differed from what most scholars generally have assumed, then the position 
that Donne feared James would return the country to Papism is untenable. 
However, simply correcting historical facts does not address the underlying 
methodology. Should a work like the Devotions really be subjected to a 
political/new historicist reading? Cooper and Marotti thought the critical 
solution to problems in the text lay in politics, but politics as inferred from 
imagery considered to be political.^^ The first question that arises from this 
method concerns the "endless webbing of political imagery" traced through- 
out the Devotions. Does the mere presence of allusions to kingship and society 
allow readers to interpret the Devotions as a work which has a specific and 



240 / Renaissance and Reformation 

definable political intent, as a new historicist reading does? A glance through 
the "political" imagery that Donne's speaker employs in the Devotions - 
imagery that lies side-by-side his numerous scientific and natural allusions - 
reveals Donne's dexterity in manipulating the familiar microcosm/macro- 
cosm correspondences, as he has his speaker constantly draw comparisons 
between his person, the natural world, and society at large. Do these "politi- 
cal" images really differ from the other sorts present? Rather than attempting 
to offer political advice, all of them, including the "political," stress the 
fragility of mankind in comparison to the greatness and majesty of God - an 
important element in humility and pietism. But is this not more a question of 
private ethics than public political policy? In Expostulation II, for example, 
Donne's speaker makes reference to the biblical King David in order to 
remind us that "No man is so little, in respect of the greatest man, as the 
greatest in respect of God." Similarly, he says in Meditation III, "a fever can 
bring that head, which yesterday carried a crown of gold five feet towards a 
crown of glory, as low as his own foot to-day." And again, "A glass is not the 
less brittle, because a king' s face is represented in it; nor a king the less brittle, 
because God is represented in him. ... They are gods, but sick gods" 
(Med.VIII).^^ It is hard to see how such instances as these constitute clear 
advice on public policy. 

In a similar vein, Donne's speaker praises King James in Expostulation 
VIII, not simply for encouraging Donne to take Orders, but more importantly 
as an agent through whom God works His will. "But this his assisting to my 
bodily health, thou knowest, O God," the speaker asserts, "and so do some 
others of thine honourable servants know, is but the twilight of that day 
wherein thou, through him, hast shined upon me before; but the echo of that 
voice, whereby thou, through him, hast spoke to me before." Here Donne's 
speaker praises James not as a ruler governing public affairs, but as an agent 
of God's will in shaping Donne's private life. True, Donne is "careful to point 
out, constantly, that kings are subject to limitations and restrictions," and need 
to be wary of rumours and open to the advice of counsellors.^^ But again, this 
is difficult to relate to specific issues of controverted policy, whether foreign 
or domestic. And if this is indeed intended to rebuke James, whom the speaker 
has just praised - and James's policies certainly had their share of "limita- 
tions" - the reference is, if anything, a reflection of Donne's disapproval over 
James's failure to act aggressively in support of the Palatinate and European 
protestantism rather than a fear of his falling under the sway of idolatry and 
papism. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 241 

Finally, we must consider whether such a "political" reading of the Devo- 
tions as Cooper's and Marotti's adequately solves the critical problem that 
they see in the ending of the work. That is, though scholars who have focused 
on the spiritual nature of the Devotions have insisted on seeing a peaceful 
reconciliation at the work's conclusion. Cooper instead highlights the over- 
whelming Angst that overcomes the speaker in the final meditation when he 
learns that his recovery is temporary and that he will inevitably fall again into 
sickness. Furthermore, he explains Donne's fear of relapse solely in political 
terms, however questionable. But although an awareness of the political 
climate during which Donne wrote the Devotions may add to the poignancy 
of the work, there is no conclusive evidence that political considerations either 
informed it or that Donne intended it to have a specific and definable political 
effect. On the contrary, Donne and his contemporaries spoke of the Devotions 
only in pietistic, never in political, terms. In a letter to Sir Robert Ker, Donne 
himself explicitly refers to the Devotions as "the meditations had in my 
sicknesse . . . [that] may minister some holy delight." John Chamberlain writes 
to Carleton of "Dr. Donnes Devotions in his sicknes newly come abrode, 
wherein are many curious and daintie conceits, not for common capacities, 
but surely full of pietie and true feeling." Even in sending a dedication copy 
to the exiled Queen of Bohemia, at best Donne hopes to comfort her and urge 
her to bear her crosses and afflictions, as she has done thus far, with patience 
and faith. The only possible political reference here is to events in the 
Palatinate. And even in the 1655 Dutch translation of the Devotions, appear- 
ing shortly after the first Anglo/Dutch War (1648), the translator Johannes 
Grindal likewise spoke of nothing but personal piety. In his words "To the 
Reader," the Devotions "is the right lye to cleanse the eyes of our conscience; 
the right means to bring us to the right knowledge of our Creator, of our 
selves."-^^ The deliberate absence of politics in a work published in early 1 624, 
precisely when political worries seem to have dominated the concerns of 
Donne and his fellow citizens, may rather express Donne's own profound 
disappointment both at James' failure to support the Palatinate and at Donne's 
own failure to advance as a consequence of his mission to the Continent. 
Contrary to what most scholars have assumed, it looks as though Donne's 
disappointment may have caused him suddenly - and surprisingly - to turn 
away from politics and towards a pietism that allowed him to escape from 
just such worldly emptiness, whereas earlier he had embraced such an 
approach. 

Although we may question Cooper's (mis)use of politics founded upon 
incomplete information as a means of solving critical problems in the Devo- 



242 / Renaissance and Reformation 

tions, we should note that he anticipates the recent flowering of interest in the 
political/historical contexts of literary and other texts. ^^ The new historicist 
methodology, however, must not be regarded as the only acceptable - or even 
the most appropriate - critical perspective in all circumstances or for all 
problems. In a recent essay re-examining this now popular critical approach, 
Edward Pechter raises some questions regarding its methodology, and partic- 
ularly its tendency to "view history and contemporary political life as deter- 
mined, wholly or in essence, by struggle, contestation, power relations, libido 
dominandi." One of the main problems with this approach "is the way the 
new historicists ignore the contrasting rhetorical situations of the texts they 
discuss. "Morever, such a methodology results in "the new historicists' 
tendency to deemphasize passages whose affective power seems unusually 
great," or to read everything in political terms. ^' Ironically, this latter problem 
underscores an important shortcoming in endeavoring to read the Devotions 
in purely political terms. Indeed, these observations find no better manife- 
station then Cooper's treatment of the Devotions. Although he offers his 
reading as a way of accounting for the striking fear of relapse with which the 
work closes, for example, his analysis insists that the political allusions must 
represent Donne's concern with the power of the kingdom. Consequently, he 
ignores the poignant outbursts of doubt, hope, piety, and fear that characterize 
Donne's speaker as he undergoes first the shock of affliction and then the 
shock of recovery. Moreover, if the new historicism's "persuasive capacity 
depends first of all on our believing the assumption that the will to power 
determines human activity and social organization,"^^ then Donne's Devo- 
tions is, ironically, an expressly anti-new historicist work. Written at a time 
when Donne seems to have given up any hope of political influence or power, 
that is, the Devotions might very well reflect his turning away from the world 
of politics and turning toward a worid that transcends everyday weariness. 
Indeed, perhaps the most affecting moment in the work occurs when the 
speaker realizes in Devotion XIX that he has not died, and hence cannot 
escape precisely this world of power, failure, and above all, sinfulness that 
has caused Donne himself so much recent trauma and pain. 

The parallels between the emotional and psychological distress experi- 
enced by Donne and his speaker are striking. Contrary to what scholars 
generally assume, that is, Donne's speaker in the Devotions never prays for 
physical recovery. Rather, he echoes Donne's own disappointment in the 
active, earthly, political life as he longs not for physical recovery and further 
engagement in the world but for the triumphant moment when his soul can 
join Christ in Heaven. After asserting that "the whole course of life is but an 



Renaissance et Réforme / 243 

active death" (Prayer XVIII, p.96), Donne's speaker concludes the eighteenth 
devotion with his eyes set firmly on heaven, not on the pains and sufferings 
of this world. Looking forward to the Last Judgment, when "this soul, now 
newly departed to thy kingdom, may quickly return to a joyful reunion to that 
body which it hath left," he is overcome by joy as he contemplates the moment 
"that time may be swallowed up in eternity, and hope swallowed in pos- 
session, and ends swallowed in infiniteness, and all men [that are] ordained 
to salvation in body and soul be one entire and everlasting sacrifice to thee, 
where thou mayst receive delight from them, and they glory from thee, for 
evermore" (Prayer XVIII, pp.96-97). When his hope for union with God is 
blasted by physical recovery, however, the speaker can only cry out his 
readiness to "deliver [himself] over to [God] this minute, if this minute [God] 
wouldst accept [his] dissolution" (Prayer XXIII, p. 126). As these final lines 
from the Devotions demonstrate, this work ends with Donne's speaker 
shaking in fear and pleading to be preserved through death from relapses of 
the spirit. Cannot one as readily hear in the moving cries of his speaker echos 
of Donne's own frustrations and disappointments at failing to move his 
sovereign to act aggressively and decisively in response to the growing 
calamities facing Protestantism in Europe? Or, to put it another way, can one 
not help but notice how strikingly the turning away from this world of 
sinfulness and fear that Donne's speaker so profoundly expresses in the 
Devotions parallels Donne's own turning away from the world of politics as 
a result of the series of disappointments that he had recently suffered? 

If in its day, Donne's Devotions seems to have been read for its piety rather 
than for its political intent, then what is the significance of the curious ending 
in which fear of relapsing into sin rather than thankfulness to God for physical 
recovery overcomes the speaker? Although scholarship on the Devotions thus 
far traditionally has assumed that the work, in keeping with its formal nature 
as a meditative account of Donne's spiritual self-combat during his near fatal 
illness, moves from initial anxiety at his fall into sickness towards a final 
moment of peace brought on by his physical recovery, a careful reading of 
the final devotions highlights the speaker' s tremendous concern with misery 
and sinfulness. This growing anxiety contrasts sharply with the expressions 
of unconditional joy in the fourteenth and eighteenth devotions when the 
speaker lay perilously on the verge of death. This concern also far exceeds 
the laments on sickness and sin that dominate the early devotions. While it is 
not possible to do justice to the argument here, in order to read the ending 
properly, it is important to recognize that the speaker explicitly confesses 
himself throughout the Devotions as Elect, despite his acute awareness of his 



244 / Renaissance and Reformation 

own sinfulness. ^^ Contrary to Cooper' s assertion, however, the fear of relapse 
in the final two devotions hardly functions as a warning to James of the 
dangers of Papism. Rather, it highlights the anxiety that overcomes the elect 
of God who, though he enjoys assurance of salvation, nevertheless knows that 
as long as he remains on this earth, he will fall again and again into sin, even 
though to be sure, he can never fall completely away from God. Far from 
expressing criticism of public policy, whether foreign or domestic, the Devo- 
tions is rather an anatomy of Perseverance, an experience appropriate only to 
the elect who despite their assurance of salvation, can never be free from 
sinfulness while on earth. It is a dramatization of the emotions which afflict 
the godly as they attempt to humble themselves before God, repent their sins, 
and bear their crosses patiently as they await their final moment of peace, a 
peace that comes with a final escape from - and not an engagement in - the 
world of politics, diplomacy, and worldly men.-^"^ 

While an accurate political reading - one more scrupulous than we have 
had thus far - may add to the poignancy and emotional depth of the work, 
particularly in light of the political failures and disappointments that Donne 
had suffered just prior to his writing the Devotions, one must remain cautious, 
for not all texts are equally amenable to this approach. Awareness of the true 
political and historical situation leading up to the publication of the Devotions 
reveals that in this work, a Donne psychologically distressed by the failure of 
his mission with Doncaster to persuade King James to act decisively on behalf 
of the Palatinate offers a striking and profound turning away from the world 
of politics as he realizes the suffering that this world inevitably brings and 
laments his failure to escape from its miseries into the eternal comfort of 
Heaven. Or to put it another way, a new historicist reading, as we have seen, 
ironically points up how "anti-historical" a work the Devotions in fact is. In 
short, it becomes clear why ultimately in the Devotions - and perhaps this is 
Donne's point - piety and poetry transcend politics. 

Oakland University 

Notes 

1. All dates are in new style, unless otherwise indicated. 

2. See R.L. Abrahamson, "The Vision of Redemption in Donne's Devotions upon Emer- 
gent Occasions," Stadia Mystica 6.i ( 1 983), 62-69; N.J.C. Andreasen, "Donne's Devotions 
and the Psychology of AssenU" Modern Philology 62 (1965), 207-216; Gerald H. Cox, III, 
"Donne's Devotions: A Meditative Sequence on Repentance," Harvard Theological 
Review 66 (1973), 331-351; Jonathan Goldberg, "The Understanding of Sickness in 
Donne's Devotions" Renaissance Quarterly 24 (1971), 507-517; Thomas J. Morrissey, 



Renaissance et Réforme / 245 

'The Self and the Meditative Tradition in Donne's Devotions^ Notre Dame English 
Journal 13 ( 1980), 29-49; Dan Noel Smith, "The Artistry of John Donne's Devotions^ 
University of Dayton Review 10,i (1973), 3-12; and Thomas Van Laan, "John Donne's 
Devotions and the Jesuit Spiritual Exercises," Studies in Philology 60 (1963), 19 1-202. 
Although these essays focus on varying aspects of Donne's Devotions, all assume a 
movement from sickness and discord to recovery and peace. 

3. See Robert M. Cooper, "The Political Implications of Donne's Devotions," in Gary A. 
Stringer, éd.. New Essays on Donne (Salzburg Studies in English Literature) (Salzburg: 
Institut furEnglischeSprache und Literatur, 1977), 192-210. Cf. Arthur Marotti, Jo/iw 
Donne: Coterie Poet (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1986), pp.276, 287, 
349. Cooper responds particularly to Andreasen's "Donne's Devotions and the Psy- 
chology of Assent." 

4. Cooper, pp. 192- 196. 

5. See David Novarr, The Making of Walton's 'Lives' (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 
1958), 29-30 et passim; Judith H. Anderson, Biographical Truth: The Representation 
of Historical Persons in Tudor-Stuart Writing (New Haven: Yale University Press, 
1984), pp. 57-61. 

6. Izaak Walton, The Life of Dr. John Donne, in John Donne: Devotions upon Emergent 
Occasions (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1959), p.xxv; R.C. Bald, 
John Donne: A Life (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1970), p.455. 

7. Paul R. Sellin, 'So Doth, So Ls Religion : John Donne and Diplomatic Contexts in the 
Reformed Netherlands, 1619-1620 (Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1988), 
pp. 166-168. 

8. Buckingham and Charles set off on February 18, 1622 old style, which becomes 
February 28, 1623 when translated into new style. The date for the issuance of the 
Directions remains August 4, 1622. For accounts of the growing discontent over James' 
failure to act decisively in support of the Palatinate, please see the Calendar of State 
Papers, Domestic Series, \ .10 i\6\9-l623), ed. Mary A. E. Green (London: Longman, 
1858); and Valaresso to the Doge, March 1, 1623, in the Calendar of State Papers, 
Venetian Series, v. 17 (1621-1623), ed. Allen B. Hinds (London: 191 1). The accounts 
of the Dutch ambassador in London, Noel de Caron, also underscore this growing 
discontent on the part of the English citizenry. See, for example, his letters to the States 
General from December 25, 1621, to March 13, 1623, printed in The British Museum, 
London, "Engelsche dépêches, berustende in het Rijks Archief te s'Gravenhage," 
Documents on British Dutch Relations. Deposited in the British Museum by order of 
Viscomte Palmerston, Secretary of State, December 20, 1848, 1 1 reels. Microfilmed 
by the Bancroft Library, The University of California, March 4, 1957, #0157, reel 5. 

9. In this sermon, Donne stresses the need for the church to follow the "Orders" or 
"Priviledges which godly Princes, out of their pietie have afforded" preachers such as 
himself, particularly those which this "Royall and religious Head of these Churches 
within his Dominions hath lately had occasion to do" [George R. Potter and Evelyn M. 
Simpson, The Sermons of John Donne (Berkeley, The University of California Press, 
1959), vol. IV, sermon # 7, pp. 198-199]. See also the last half of the sermon, 
pp.20 1-209, in which Donne speaks specifically in support of the Directions to 
Preachers. Although Donne expresses faith in the constancy of James's religion 
throughout this sermon, there are undertones of dissatisfaction. In his John Donne: A 



246 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Life, R.C. Bald writes that "Donne's defence of the King's directions scarcely touched 
the real issues" (p. 434) and in a letter to Carleton in September, 1622, John Chamber- 
lain writes "on the 15th of this present the Dean of Paules preached at the Crosse to 
certifie the Kings goode intention in the late orders concerning preachers and preach- 
ing, and of his constancie in the true reformed religion ... , but he gave not great 
satisfaction, or as some say spake as yf himself were not so well satisfied" [The Letters 
of John Chamberlain, ed. Norman E. McClure (Philadelphia: The American Philosoph- 
ical Society, 1939), v. II, p.451]. Rather then suggesting that Donne feared James' 
return to popery, this dissatisfaction may instead reflect his concern over James's 
failure to act aggressively on behalf of the Palatinate. Indeed, Donne may be referring 
in this sermon to mounting discontent amongst the citizenry regarding James' failure 
to act in this regard when, in speaking of God's power, he says: 

But I speake of this subject, especially to establish and settle them, that suspect 
Gods power, or Gods purpose, to succour those, who in forraine parts, grone 
under heavie pressures in matter of Religion, or to restore those, who in 
forraine parts, are devested of their lawfull possessions, and inheritance; and 
because God hath not done these great workes yet, nor yet raised up meanes, 
in apparance [sic], and in their apprehension, likely to effect it. That therefore 
God likes not the cause; and therefore they begin to bee shaked in their owne 
Religion at home, since they thinke that God neglects it abroad. 

Potter and Simpson, IV, p. 183.) 

10. Donne to Goodere, September 1622, Letters to Severall Persons of Honour by John 
Donne, ed. Charles E. Merrill, Jr. (New York: 1910), p. 200. This letter also 
demonstrates the careful attention Donne paid to events in Bohemia. 

11. Doncaster to Donne, 1622, Edmund Gosse, The Life and Letters of John Donne 
(London: 1899), v.II, pp. 160-61. 

12. Donne to Roe, December 1, 1622, Gosse, v.II, pp.1739675. 

13. Potter and Simpson, V. IV, p. 254. 

14. Marotti, p.287. 

15. From 1619 on. Chamberlain's letters to Carleton and the Venetian Ambassador's letters 
to Venice [see C.S. P., Venice, vols. 16 & 17], reveal England's deep interest in the 
Palatinate and the fate of the King and Queen of Bohemia. The letters of Caron, the 
Dutch Ambassador to London during these years, similarly reveals the concern that the 
English court and people felt for the events occuring in the Palatinate. See, for example, 
Caron' s letters to the States General, recorded in "Engelsche dépêches," from Decem- 
ber 25, 1621, to October 7, 1623. Cf. Donne to Goodere, September 24, 1622, Letters 
to Severall Persons of Honour, pp. 182-183. This letter, too, chronicles the events as 
they unfolded in Bohemia, thereby revealing the deep concern that Donne felt for them. 

16. For example, on May 22, 1623, the Venetian Ambassador wrote from London, "A 
Gentleman has reached here in twelve days from Spain, sent expressly by the Prince 
of Wales with a letter to his sister, asuring her that he will on no account consent to the 
marriage before he has obtained the restitution of what belongs to her, and brought her 
the rest and peace which he desires for her" {C.S. P. Venice, v. 18). In detailing the 
various changes that occured in English policy toward the events in Bohemia, the Dutch 
Ambassador Caron similarly recounts how the Spanish match became contingent upon 



Renaissance et Réforme / 247 

the restoration of the Palatinate. His letter of July 30, 1622, for example, relates not 
only that the Infanta has agreed upon the conditions of the marriage, but, more 
importantly, that the King will support this marriage only if the Palatinate is restored. 
Indeed, as Caron reports on December 22, 1623 (Charles has returned to England 
without the Infanta), although Spain refuses to return the Palatinate until after the 
match, the King insists that this restoration must take place before the wedding. 

17. C. S.P.Venice, v. 18, June 16, 1623; Chamberlain to Carleton, January 3, 1624, v.II, 
p.537. 

18. For a full analysis of Donne's Catholic background, see Dennis Flynn, "Donne's 
Catholocism: I" Recusant History 13 (1975-76), 1-17 and "Donne's Catholocism: 11" 
Recusant History 13 (1975-76), 178-195. Cf. R.C. Bald, John Donne: A Life (New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1970), pp. 39-40, 61-68. Ignatian readings of the 
Donne's poetry and his Devotions include: Louis L. Martz, The Poetry of Meditation: 
A Study in English Religious Literature of the Seventeenth Century (New Haven: Yale 
University Press, 1954); Thomas Van Laan, "John Donne's Devotions and the Jesuit 
Spiritual Exercises," Studies in Philology 60 (1963), pp. 191-202; Anthony Raspa, 
"Introduction" to his edition of the Devotions (Montreal: McGillQueen's University 
Press, 1975), pp. xiii-xl; Sister Elizabeth Savage, éd., John Donne's Devotions Upon 
Emergent Occasions (Salzburg: Institut fur Englisch Sprach und Literatur, 1975), pp. 
liii-cii; and R. L. Abrahamson, "The Vision of Redemption in Donne' s Devotions Upon 
Emergent Occasions" Studia Mystica, 6 (1983), pp. 62-69. 

19. Anderson, pp. 19, 57, 61, 69. Anderson's study builds upon Stephen Greenblat's 
important work. Renaissance Self -Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1980) and David Novarr's The Making of Walton 's Lives. 
Note, too, that Anderson (pp. 58-65) explains how Walton made revisions in his Lives 
that reflected the changing historical times, and that Walton constantly interpreted and 
reinterpreted the events in Donne's life. 

20. Anderson, p. 69. 

21. See Paul R. Sellin, John Donne and 'Calvinist' Views of Grace (Amsterdam: 1983), 
pp. 1-50; Mary E. Arshagouni, John Donne's Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions: A 
Puritan Reading (Dissertation: University of California, Los Angeles, 1988), pp. 
341-346. 

22. Indeed, the growing tension between what scholars now call the via media "Anglican" 
church and more radical Puritans within England in early 1640 may very well have 
been the impetus for Walton's insistence on defining Donne as a true son of the 
post-Laudian "Anglican" church, though of course he would not use these terms. 
Donne's own son, John Donne, Jr., may very likely be alluding to this very problem 
in remarks made on the 1640 printing of his father's Sermons. According to John 
Donne, Jr., 

... Upon the death of my Father, I was called awaie, beeinge commaunded by 
the Kinge, and encouradged by most of the cheefe men in the Kingdome, to 
recollect and printe my Fathers Sermons. ... I had in my proceedings with the 
Bysshop of Canterburies Chaplaines, (who were to licence them), manie 
disputes, thay offeringe to expunge manie things, which hee openly preached, 
and, in the Bysshops hearinge, withoute anie dispute, all his lyfetime: by which 



248 / Renaissance and Reformation 

meanes, I soe farr incurred the Bysshops displeasure, that hee thrice put me \ 

by the Cannonry. ! 

See Bald, pp. 575-576. One cannot help but wonder just what were those "manie things, i 
which [Donne] openly preached" that the Bishops in 1640 found so objectionable. 

23. SeWiix, 'So Doth, So Is Religion', p.vU. I 

24. According to Professor Sellin, moreover, "there is little doubt," that Donne's thoughts \ 
were consumed with the problems facing protestantism in Europe and "that about this I 
time [ 1 62 1-22] Donne did in fact air his opinions publicly about Bohemia, the papacy, ' 
and the consequences of neutrality for the Reformed religion." Ibid, p. 169. 

25. ??? 

26. Cooper, pp.192, 203-04. 

27. John Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, edited by Anthony Raspa (Mon- 
treal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1975). All subsequent references will be from ' 
this edition. 5 

28. Cooper, pp. 198-201. J 

29. Donne to Ker, February 1624, Letters, pp.2 14-1 5; Chamberlain to Carleton, February \ 
21, 1624, p.545; Donne to the Queen of Bohemia, 1624, Gosse II, p. 205; Grindal, "To f 
the Reader," reprinted in Paul R. Sellin, John Donne and 'Calvinist' Views of Grace, 'i 
pp.59-61. j 

30. See, for example, Louis Montrose, "Renaissance Literary Studies and the Subject of | 
History,"' English Literary Renaissance 16:i(Winter 1986), pp.5- 12; and Jean Howard, i 
"The New Historicism in Renaissance Studies," English Literary Renaissance 16:i 
(Winter 1986), pp. 13-43. 

3 1 . Edward Pechter, "The New Historicism and Its Discontents: Politicizing Renaissance 
Drama," Publications of the Modern Language Association 102:iii (May 1987), 
pp.292-299. 

32. Ibid, p.301. 

33. Mary Arshagouni, "Election in John Donne's Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions" 
(unpublished essay). 

34. Please see my study, John Donne 's Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions: A Puritan 
Reading, for a full account of this reading of the Devotions. 



La Création du monde et The Taming of the 
Shrew: Du Bartas comme intertexte 



RICHARD HILLMAN 



Uepuis la parution, en 1908, de la thèse de Harry Ashton intitulée 
Du Bartas en Angleterre - ouvrage réédité en 1969' - la question des 
premières traductions anglaises de La Création du monde de Du Bartas est 
généralement considérée comme réglée, bien que la problématique de 
l'influence contemporaine de l'épopée chrétienne sur le monde littéraire de 
l'Angleterre soit restée ouverte.-^ La présente étude aborde ces deux 
problèmes à la fois en examinant, du point de vue de l'application 
idéologique de certains éléments bartasiens, une traduction du seizième 
siècle jusqu'à présent presque entièrement négligée. 

Cette négligence s'explique assez facilement; comme il ne s'agit que de 
quelques vers de La première sepmaine, ensevelis dans une pièce assez 
obscure à laquelle personne ne prêterait aucune attention, si ce n'était sa 
relation - vivement disputée, bien sûr - à The Taming of the Shrew de 
Shakespeare. Ce lien problématique augmente l'intérêt de cette oeuvre ano- 
nyme, The Taming of a Shrew, bien que je n'aie pas l'intention de prendre 
parti dans le débat sur l'ordre prioritaire de ces textes, considérant la pièce 
soit comme un "Bad Quarto" de la pièce de Shakespeare, soit comme sa 
source ou encore comme une version plus ou moins dégénérée de quelque 
source commune. Les relations entre ces deux oeuvres n'altèrent en rien leurs 
divergences vis-à-vis Du Bartas: d'une part, l'héroïne farouche de The Tam- 
ing of a Shrew annonce finalement son propre apprivoisement en citant les 
vers de Du Bartas sur la création de l'ordre universel par "L'immuable décret 
de la bouche divine" ( 1 9),^ d' autre part, l'héroïne de Shakespeare - également 
nommée "Kate" - n'étend son argument ni à Dieu ni à la nature, pour garder 
son discours strictement au niveau humain et politique. Le devoir de l'épouse, 
considéré comme obligation purement séculière, remplace la grande logique 
de la création selon laquelle Eve fut justement subordonnée à Adam. Cette 
absence ou plutôt cet effacement du système de l'harmonie divine de 



Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVII, 3 ( 199 1 ) 249 



250 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Du Bartas, c'est-à-dire de l'essence de son texte, entraîne la question 
suivante: comment justifier la soumission absolue de la femme à l'homme? 
Même si la critique a perçu des thèmes bartasiens dans les paroles finales 
de la Kate de l'auteur inconnu,"* je n'ai trouvé aucune description exacte de 
cet emprunt. Voici les six premiers vers de ce discours: 

Thetemall power that with his only breath. 
Shall cause this end and this beginning frame, 
Not in time, nor before time, but with time, confusd. 
For all the course of yeares, of ages, moneths, 
Of seasons temperate, of dayes and houres. 
Are tund and stopt, by measure of his hand . . . 

(xviii. 17-22)5 

A part une certaine confusion dans les deux premiers vers produisant une 
structure grammaticalement incomplète, ce passage suit assez fidèlement les 
vers 19-24 du Premier jour. 

L'immuable décret de la bouche divine. 

Qui causera sa fin, causa son origine. 

Non en temps, avant temps, ains mesme avec le temps, 

J'entens un temps confus, car les courses des ans. 

Des siècles, des saisons, des moys, et des journées. 

Par le bal mesuré des astres sont bornées. 

Dans les quatre lignes suivantes, Kate continue sa traduction, mais elle saute 
presque deux cents vers de l'original: 

The first world was, a forme, without a forme, 
A heape confusd a mixture ail deformd, 
A gulfe of gulfes, a body bodiles. 
Where all the elements were orderles. 

(xviii.23-26) 

Ce premier monde estoit une forme sans forme. 
Une pile confuse, un meslange difforme, 
D'abismes un abisme, un corps mal compassé. 
Un Chaos de Chaos, un tas mal entassé 
Où tous les elemens se logeoient pesle-mesle. 

(1.223-27) 



Renaissance et Réforme / 25 1 

Comme on le verra, le fait que la traduction omet le vers employant le terme 
"chaos" signale l'imposition d'une idéologie plus conservatrice à l'intertexte. 
L'approche radicalement différente de Shakespeare sera également évidente. 
Quant à Kate, elle commence dès lors à s'éloigner de plus en plus du texte 
bartasien. Elle laisse de côté l'amplification des éléments en désordre qui occupe 
les neuf prochains vers de l'original, avant de faire un geste assez vague - "the 
great Commander of the world" (xviii.27) - vers l'image de Dieu en tant que 
"Grand Mareschal de camp" qui donnera "Quartier à chacun" (1.237-38) des 
éléments. Kate gâte encore la cohérence grammaticale en remplaçant le futur par 
le passé - "Who in six daies did frame his heavenly worke, / And made al things 
to stand in perfect course" - afin évidemment d'opérer dans la narration une 
transition vers le point principal, axe moralisateur du texte soit, la création de 
l'homme et de sa méchante inférieure: 

Then to his image he did make a man, 

Olde Adam and from his side asleepe, 

A rib was taken, of which the Lord did make. 

The woe of man so termd by Adam then, • 

Woman for that, by her came sinne to us. 

And for her sin was Adam doomd to die. 

(xviii.31-36) 

Par ces vers, l'héroïne antiféministe abandonne non seulement l'esprit mais 
aussi la lettre de son modèle. Du Bartas ne traite de la création de la race 
humaine qu'à sa juste place dans l'histoire, c'est-à-dire au Sixiesme jour, où 
d'ailleurs il ne parle pas de la femme en tant que pécheresse ou inférieure 
mais, au contraire, comme une sorte de supplément rédempteur: 

Sans qui l'homme ça bas n'est homme qu'à demy: 
Ce n'est qu'un loup-garou du soleil ennemy. 
Qu'un animal sauvage, ombrageux, solitaire. 
Bigarre, frénétique, à qui rien ne peut plaire 
Que le seul desplaisir, né pour soy seulement. 
Privé de coeur, d'esprit, d'amour, de sentiment. 

(6.949-54) 

Dieu opère Adam "[c]omme le médecin, qui desire trencher / Quelque 
membre incurable" (6.961-62) et "[p]our sauver l'homme entier, il en coupe 
une part" (6.966). Eve forme avec son conjoint r"amoureux Androgyne" 
édénique (6.987). Loin d'être une lutte pour préserver une hiérarchie précaire, 
le mariage devient, même dans ce monde déchu, la "[slource de tout bon heur" 



252 / Renaissance and Reformation 

(6.987). La lacune déjà ouverte entre le discours de Kate et l'autorité textuelle 
qu'elle invoque se transforme de la sorte en un véritable abîme. 



Revenons au chaos, pour ainsi dire. Ce terme est exclu non seulement par 
Kate, mais aussi par le premier traducteur anonyme de La première sepmaine 
en 1 595 dans sa version du même passage - version beaucoup plus pittoresque 
que celle de Kate, même si elle est plus éloignée de l'original:^ 

Base was the world's first visage, and vncouth, 

An Auerne dungeon, tost with heedles quoyle: 

A rifraffe medley; and gulphall mouth. 

A sluggish heape of Elements at soyle. 

Amongst themselues pell mell all one the spoyle. (14) 

II faut reconnaître que le rôle attribué par Du Bartas au chaos dans le 
processus créateur provoqua une grande controverse religieuse, non seule- 
ment parce que l'idée du chaos était d'origine païenne, mais aussi parce 
qu'elle menaçait, dans le texte de Du Bartas, le dogme de la création ex 
nihiloJ L'auteur a tenté de maintenir l'orthodoxie à cet égard, en parlant assez 
énigmatiquement, par exemple, de 

Ce lourd, dy-je. Chaos, qui, dans soy mutiné. 
Se vid en un moment dans le Rien d'un rien né ... 

(2.43-44)*^X 

Le principe du mystère divin y était ainsi suffisamment préservé. Néanmoins, 
il semble qu'une fois créé du néant, le chaos lui aussi acquiert un pouvoir 
créateur, en fonctionnant effectivement comme partenaire nécessaire de Dieu. 
Car c'est le chaos qui "Estoit le corps fécond d'où la celeste essence / Et les 
quatre elemens dévoient prendre naissance" (2.45^6). 

Ce tableau risque de soulever une question dangereuse pour l'auteur, soit 
celle de la nature de la matière. Chez des néo-platoniciens comme Plutarque, 
le concept typiquement grec de la création comme mise en ordre accorde à la 
matière non seulement une force créatrice, mais une âme.^ Dans le contexte 
chrétien, une telle perspective entraîne d'inquiétantes conséquences concern- 
ant le rapport de Dieu à sa création, le statut actuel du monde et la nature du 
temps. De plus. Du Bartas est bien capable de renforcer cette inquiétude en 
exprimant ses idées au moyen d'images assez étonnantes: quand il a recours, 



Renaissance et Réforme / 253 

par exemple, à une ancienne croyance pour expliquer le processus par lequel 
le chaos a donné naissance à l'univers. Dieu, propose-t-il. 

En formant l'univers fit donc ainsi que l'ourse 

Qui, dans l'obscure grotte, au bout de trente jours. 

Une masse difforme enfante au lieu d'un ours; 

Et puis en la léchant ores elle façonne 

Ses deschirantes mains, or' sa teste félonne. 

Or' ses pieds, or' son col, et d'un monceau si laid 

Son industrie anime un animal parfait. 

(1.408-14) 

Outre la représentation vraiment audacieuse de Dieu dans ce passage, il est 
frappant que cet "animal parfait", manifestant la perfection de la création, soit 
aussi le symbole même pour la Renaissance de la destruction brutale et sauvage, 
tel qu'attesté par les "deschirantes mains" et la "teste félonne". Ces détails ont 
étés supprimés de la traduction de 1 595 et également de celle de Joshua Sylvester, 
postérieure à cette dernière, sans doute afin de produire un tableau plus neutre, 
qui ne susciterait pas de réactions négatives.'^ Chez Du Bartas lui-même, le 
lecteur se heurte à un paradoxe: la naissance devient la mort tout en demeurant 
la naissance. Ce n'est peut-être pas par hasard qu'on trouve les mêmes images, 
chargées d'un semblable mélange de destruction et de création, au moment où 
le roi Richard III de Shakespeare, homme déformé moralement ainsi que phys- 
iquement, mais plein de force et d'énergie, parle de sa naissance: "Like to a chaos, 
or an unlick'd bear-whelp / That carries no impression like the dam" (Richard 
///,III.ii. 124-27)." 

Parmi les commentateurs modernes de Du Bartas, c'est Luzius Keller qui 
a saisi les implications subversives, sinon carrément hérétiques, d'une telle 
conception du chaos créateur. Après avoir approfondi le traitement du chaos 
chez Du Bartas, Keller conclut: "Tout nous fait croire que Du Bartas est tenté 
d'attribuer à la Matière un prestige semblable à celui qu'il attribue à Dieu". '- 
Sans doute existe-t-il des indications spécifiques, en plus des réticences des 
traducteurs, qui soulignent la problématique découlant du thème du chaos 
pour certains lecteurs contemporains, même si l'on peut parler, en général, 
comme le fait James Dauphiné, d'une "'rencontre' entre La Sepmaine et la 
religion dominante".'^ Simon Goulart, par exemple, consacre un effort 
considérable à justifier l'orthodoxie de cet aspect de la pensée de Du Bartas 
dans son commentaire détaillé d'abord publié avec l'édition de 1582 et 
éventuellement tiré à part en traduction anglaise.'"* Sur la défensive, il 
réaffirme au nom du poète la doctrine de la création ex nihilo ainsi que les 



254 / Renaissance and Reformation 

principes philosophiques qui en dépendent. Il insiste donc dans un premier 
temps sur le fait que la matière n'a pas d'être en soi, puis que le chaos (image 
empruntée à Ovide) n'attribue pas à Dieu le rôle borné de metteur-en-ordre. 
Selon lui, on peut légitimement considérer le chaos comme r"embryon" du 
monde puisque cet embryon a été créé du néant par la volonté divine. 

Cette opinion est bien loin, tout de même, du jugement outragé de Christo- 
fle de Gamon, exprimé dans son ouvrage aussi absurde que révélateur, La 
Semaine, ou Création du monde contre celle du sieur Du Bartas)^ Ce n'est 
guère exagéré de décrire son intérêt pour la question comme une véritable 
obsession, provoquant des attaques beaucoup plus violentes que celles 
lancées contre d'autres aspects du poème de son adversaire désigné. Pour lui, 
évidemment. Du Bartas donne l'assaut à la toute-puissance de Dieu en 
renversant le processus créateur. En fait, De Gamon déconstruit la section du 
poème traitant du chaos, parfois vers par vers, dans un véritable orage de 
négation. Ainsi Dieu, selon lui. 

N'entassa point un Tas qui fust mal entassé, 

Ne fut vn monstre horrible, un corps mal compassé 

Une forme difforme, vn informe meslange. 

Une pile, vn Chaos, vn brouillement estrange, (p. 5) 

L'auteur estime qu'il serait fondamentalement contraire à l'essentielle 
harmonie divine que les éléments "Se fissent l'vn dans l'autre vne mortelle 
guerre" (p. 5); il devient donc nécessaire de rejeter comme antichrétienne 
toute la conception du chaos: 

Du fantasque Chaos la profane doctrine 

Ne heurte seulement la Parole-Divine, 

Mais la nature encor du prudent Créateur, 

Qui d'vn euure confus ne peut estre l'Auteur, (p. 8) 

n 

Mais à la lumière du contexte bartasien, il est clair qu'en supprimant la 
mention du chaos, la Kate de The Taming of a Shrew n'essaie pas seulement 
d'éviter une controverse théologique assez abstraite. Il s'agit surtout pour elle 
de garder pur et clair l'appui que prête la hiérarchie de la création divine à la 
subordination de la femme. Dans cette pièce, la tendance au désordre est 
carrément qualifiée de féminine et stigmatisée comme contraire à la volonté 
d'un bienveillant créateur masculin. En fait, comme la création de la femme 
chez Du Bartas ne constitue pas une menace à l'ordre - l'auteur applique. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 255 

pour ainsi dire, l'argument a priori de de Gamon à cet égard - le chaos 
lui-même représente un élément (ou plutôt des éléments) nettement positif. 
En outre, le chaos de Du Bartas est revêtu d'une identité indubitablement 
féminine, grâce à plusieurs images de naissance et de fécondité qui rappellent 
la désignation néo-platonicienne de la matière comme part féminine de la 
nature, c'est-à-dire comme conjointe de Dieu. 

Or, nous avons vu que, dans la pièce anonyme. Dieu existe, au moins dans 
les coulisses. Kate l'invoque directement comme l'autorité ultime, garantis- 
sant la place convenable de chaque élément dans la grande chaîne de la 
création. De plus, dans une scène antérieure qui a son équivalent très connu 
dans l'ouvrage de Shakespeare, les conjoints invoquent Jésus en réglant leur 
dispute sur l'identité du corps céleste qui brille à ce moment (il fait plein jour, 
bien sûr): "Jésus save the glorious moone" (xv. 11,12). Il s'agit également 
dans les deux pièces d'une confirmation de l'obéissance littéralement aveugle 
de la femme. Mais il y a une différence significative. Si le dernier discours 
de la Kate de Shakespeare présente sa soumission comme une question de 
devoir féodal, de dépendance physique, et d'obligation morale ne tenant 
aucunement compte de Dieu, c'est que le héros, Petruchio, s'est déjà 
effectivement substitué à Dieu. Il ne jure pas par Jésus, mais "by my mother's 
son, and that's myself (IV.v.6); il s'arroge le pouvoir non seulement 
d'interpréter la réalité, mais de la transformer selon sa propre volonté, voire, 
jusqu'à commander le temps: "It shall be what a' clock I say it is" (IV.iii.l95). 
On prophétise à son sujet, "this gallant will command the sun" (196), et 
lorsque cela arrive littéralement, Kate doit lui rendre hommage dans les 
formes spécifiques de la prière: 

Then God be blest, it is the blessed sun. 
But sun it is not, when you say it is not; 
And the moon changes even as your mind. 
What you will have it nam'd, even that it is. 
And so it shall be so for Katherine. 

(IV.v. 18-22) 

Quand l'on connaît les versions anglaises de la Bible du seizième siècle, il 
est impossible de ne pas remarquer la cadence biblique de ce passage dans 
lequel la force créatrice du langage de Petruchio supplante carrément le 
principe de la dénomination adamique. 

Dieu n'est pas absent de The Taming of the Shrew; il prend le nom de 
Petruchio. Cependant, Petruchio est loin de se comporter d'une manière 
divine. Franchement humain, il se montre intéressé, brutal, égoïste: l'idée 



256 / Renaissance and Reformation 

qu'il aime Kate dans le sens romantique du terme me semble rien de plus 
qu'une fantaisie entretenue sans aucune preuve textuelle. Afin peut-être 
d'excuser, en soulignant l'idéologie contemporaine, des idées trop 
inquiétantes pour être attribuées personnellement à Shakespeare, plusieurs 
commentateurs ont accentué le stéréotype de la "shrewishness". En particu- 
lier, on a souvent comparé le thème de The Taming of the Shrew au traitement 
de l'histoire de Noé au moyen âge. Bien que l'on y trouve un apprivoisement 
semblable d'une femme rebelle, il devient capital que ce résultat dépend non 
des efforts du mari, toujours comiquement futiles, mais de la grâce divine. 
Comme dans la pièce anonyme, cette grâce transcendante établit la place 
subordonnée de la femme dans le plan universel de Dieu. Comportant moins 
de brutalité physique que la plupart des oeuvres littéraires anti-féministes de 
l'époque, la pièce de Shakespeare est paradoxalement plus inquiétante 
qu'elles - et je crois qu'elle l'aurait été pour un public conservateur de la 
Renaissance - à cause de sa transformation des prérogatives divines en 
ambitions terrestres. En imposant sa volonté à son épouse, Petruchio ne se 
montre ni plus juste ni plus sage ni plus pieux qu'elle, mais simplement plus 
fort. 

Quant à l' intertexte, il me semble que la séparation radicale dans The 
Taming of the Shrew du modèle de la création de sa base théologique dégage 
effectivement les significations les plus subversives de la version de 
Du Bartas, qui sont activement supprimées par la pièce anonyme. Il faut 
d'ailleurs reconnaître que le chaos représenté par la Kate de Shakespeare est 
doué d'une valeur créatrice en soi. En effet, l'harmonie finale, confirmée 
d'une façon conventionelle par des mariages multiples, n'existerait pas du 
tout sans elle, c'est-à-dire sans son entêtement, son énergie, son désordre, sa 
colère assez justifiée. C'est elle qui provoque la transformation du monde de 
la pièce, même si elle le fait à ses propres dépens. Elle invoque, voire elle 
invente, les règles de la comédie sous le nom de Petruchio. Ce dernier est 
ainsi vraiment relégué au rôle de metteur-en-ordre, comme menace de le 
devenir le Dieu bartasien. Ce n'est point, bien sûr, la perspective de Petruchio 
lui-même. Contrairement à son équivalent dans la pièce anonyme, qui prend 
sa place dans l'ordre universel en faisant le travail de Dieu, Petruchio vise à 
recréer l'univers selon sa propre vision. Il croit d'ailleurs avoir réussi. Mais 
sa présentation non comme agent du tout-puissant, mais comme tyran ter- 
restre, mené par une vision bornée et étroite, entraîne une diminution ironique 
de sa stature. Elle entraîne aussi l'ouverture d'un espace infranchissable entre 
deux conceptions antagonistes, l'une d'un véritable mythe de création, 
appartenant à la comédie divine - on pense, à cet égard, à la figure de 



Renaissance et Réforme / 257 

Mutabilitie chez Spenser, aussi en quelque sorte une mégère apprivoisée - , 
et l'autre d'une histoire assez sordide de souffrance et de répression dans 
l'ordre de la politique sexuelle. Cette dernière vue implique sans doute une 
dimension tragique, en ce qui concerne l'expérience de Kate. Mais la lumière 
jetée sur le texte par Du Bartas nous permet de dégager un sens tragique au 
niveau mythique, à la différence de Spenser. Car l'élimination de l'énergie 
chaotique, le refus de lui attribuer une valeur, marque dans ce contexte 
l'imposition de limites aux possibilités futures du monde fictif, c'est-à-dire à 
l'idée même de la création. 

Université York 

Notes 

Note: Je tiens à remercier mes collègues, M.-C. Leps et C. Quesnel, qui ont bien voulu relire 
le manuscrit de cet article et m'aider à faire des révisions. 

1. Harry Ashton. Du Bartas en Angleterre (Genève, Slatkine Reprints, 1969. 

2. Pour une tentative importante et assez récente d'éclairer cette deuxième question, voir 
Anne Lake Prescott, "The Reception of Du Bartas in England," Studies in the Renais- 
sance, 15 (1968), 144-73. 

3. Lm première sepmaine, in The Works of Guillaume de Salluste Sieur du Bartas: A 
Critical Edition with Introduction, Commentary, and Variants, 3 vol., ed. Urban Tigner 
Holmes, Jr., John Coriden Lyons et Robert White Linker (Chapel Hill: University of 
North Carolina Press, 1935-40 - H, 1938). 

4. Juliet Dusinberre. Shakespeare and the Nature of Women (Houndmills, Basingstoke: 
Macmillan, 1975), p. 78. 

5. The Taming of a Shrew, in Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, ed. 
Geoffrey Bullough, I (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul; New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1957), 69-108. 

6. The First Day of the Worldes Creation. Or Of the First Week of that most Christian 
Poet, W. Salustius, Lord of Bartas (London: J. Jackeson for G. Seaton, 1595), STC 
21658, réédité en 1596 (STC 21658.5). Le terme est employé plus loin pour décrire 
l'anarchie originaire (p. 16), quand le tableau peut être purement négatif. Dans sa 
discussion des premières traductions (127-34) - reproduite malheureusement par 
Holmes, Lyons et Linker (lU, 538) - Ashton attribue erronément cet ouvrage au 
traducteur de Du Bartas le plus connu, Joshua Sylvester, dont la version grandement 
différente, publiée en 1605, a introduit en fait le mot "chaos" pour la première fois, à 
ce que l'on sache (il y avait probablement eu des traductions préalables qui ont été 
perdues, dont l'une de Sir Philip Sydney). 

7. Une tendance semblable chez Ronsard est discutée par Luzius Keller dans Palingène, 
Ronsard, Du Bartas: Trois études sur la poésie cosmologique de la Renaissance 
(Berne, Francke, [1974], pp. 88-94, qui accentue l'influence de Ficin. 

8. Dans sa traduction du Second jour, The Second day of the First Weeke (Londres, 1603 
[STC 21659]), Thomas Winter évite la mention du chaos dans ce passage (voir p. 4). 



258 / Renaissance and Reformation 

9. Voir en particulier deux essais faisant partie des Moralia: le commentaire de plutarque 
sur le Timée de Platon (pour qui la matière restait inerte) et l'essai sur Isis et Osiris, 
qui représente la matière comme la partie féminine de la nature. Pour une analyse de 
la pensée de Plutarque sur cette question dans la tradition philosophique, voir Pierre 
Thévenaz, L'âme du monde: le devenir et la matière chez Plutarque, Collection 
d' Etudes Anciennes, publiée sous le patronage de l 'Association Guillaume Budé (Paris, 
Les Belles Lettres, 1938), pp. 68-70. 

10. Cet effet est particulièrement frappant dans la traduction anonyme: 

By licking she expresseth eurie lim: 

She formes the head, and fashions out the feet. 

Indents the pawes, and make the visage grim, 

Rough casts the shag hair'd shoulders: as is meet 

In euerie part, she shewes hir selfe discreet: 

Discreet and diligent, till she haue done. 

And brought hir whelpe to iust perfection, (p. 23) 

1 1. L'édition de Shakespeare citée dans la présente étude est The Riverside Shakespeare, 
éd. G. Blakemore Evans & al. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974). 

12. Keller, p. 130. Ce critique met en relief une distinction essentielle: "Si chez du Bartas 
le thème de la matière éternelle prend la forme d'une véritable tentation de l'esprit, 
chez Ronsard il apparaît plutôt comme l'occasion d'un exercice poétique" (p. 92). 

13. James Dauphiné. Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas. Poète scientifique (Paris, Société 
d'Editions Les Belles Lettres, 1983), p. 1 13. 

14. A Learned Summary upon the Famous Poeme of William of Saluste Lord of Bartas, tr. 
T. L. D. M. P. [Thomas Lodge] (London: 1621 (STC 21666J). 

1 5. Christofle de Gamon, Sieur de Chomenas, La Semaine, ou la Création du monde contre 
celle du sieur Du Bartas (Genève, G. Petit, 1599). 



Book Reviews / Comptes rendus 



Elaine V. Beilin. Redeeming Eve. Women Writers of the English Renaissance. 
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987. Pp. xxiv, 346. 

In a finely crafted work Elaine V. Beilin undertakes, through this first in depth study 
of thirty women writers of the English Renaissance, her colossal task of Redeeming 
Eve (Princeton University Press, 1987). Two 1930s doctoral studies had concluded 
that as a group, women writers of the English Renaissance "form an early modern 
tradition of women's writing" (xvi). Building upon this pioneering scholarship, 
Beilin adds a new dimension in her investigation into how these women were 
influenced by the social and literary attitudes of the time. She concludes that there 
were three major ways in which the concept of women influenced these writers: 
firstly, it motivated them to write; secondly, it controlled by limiting what and how 
they wrote; thirdly and yet ambivalently, it encouraged them to subvert the expec- 
tations of their writing (xvii-xviii). 

As much a product of their cultural environment as their male counterparts, these 
women writers were caught in an untenable situation. Praised for the passive virtues 
which they internalized and which then defined them, when they became writers 
they were actors in a veritable theatre of the absurd. Not only did they have to write 
about their limited sphere of activities, they had to use an intellect whose existence 
was denied to subvert their private and domestic role. Beilin underscores the irony 
implicit in the historical fact that in finding their voice, these women of Tudor and 
early Stuart England carved out their own niche. For these women writers society 
and literary tradition meet in ambivalence. 

Beilin uses the architectural metaphor of the late medieval writer Christine de 
Pisan's Cité des Dames to divide her study of the 100 year sweep (1524-1623) of 
women writing into three parts. Written in direct response to the devaluing of 
women's intellect and creativity, de Pisan's structural metaphor is used to show how 
sturdy is the foundation on which women's writing is built; how it developed into 
"Mighty towers and strong bastions"; and how it hedged itself with "Lofty walls all 
around" (xxiii-xxiv). 

The sturdy foundations of Part I cover the years 1524-1 544 in four chapters that 
trace the growing tradition of women's writing in prose, poetry and translations. In 
addition to discussing the cultural setting created by such great Renaissance human- 
ists as Thomas More, Beilin identifies how restricting was the liberal education and 



260 / Renaissance and Reformation 

the "decorum of language" (25) they advocated. Mary More Roper, daughter of 
Thomas More, is an extraordinary example of the success of the humanist ideal of 
the learned and virtuous woman (16,21). Not less impressive is the opposing 
self-portrait of Anne Askew whose heroic battle against all authority made her into 
the first Protestant martyr. 

The publication between 1545-1605 of fifteen prose religious works and trans- 
lations by women of different social ranks is seen by Beilin as an important link 
between "women's traditional spirituality and their developing literary calling." 
(48) Not all the famous women Reformist prose writers survived the religious and 
political dangers of the time. When these writers saw themselves both as spiritual 
teachers and poets, they faced the additional task of overcoming the literary 
convention that poets were male. 

"The Mighty Towers and Strong Bastions" of Part II fittingly begins with an 
examination of the talents and literary development of Mary Sidney, Countess of 
Pembroke (1561-1621). In the history of women writing, she is the first to be 
concerned with writing itself. Female dramatists who now use the female archetype 
of the Christian soul are building upon Mary Sidney's attempt to embody the hero 
in woman, and to indicate how the private virtues of women could bring about heroic 
actions. No longer do female images and symbols merely represent feminine type 
or allegorical figures. They have become a writer. When Aemilia Lanyer praises 
women's virtues she is, unlike her contemporaries, John Donne and Ben Jonson, 
creating an image of beneficent feminine power. In perceiving women as speaking 
and acting wisely, Lanyer was "redeeming Eve" (179, 182). 

What one critic has termed the "mythology of patronage" that surrounded the 
Sidneys provided a positive influence on Mary Wroth, gifted offspring of this 
pre-eminent family. In being the first woman to write a prose romance and a sonnet 
sequence, she broke new ground moving beyond Lanyer's poetry of praise to 
explore the question of heroic virtue. Her virtuous monarch Pamphilia who was also 
a constant lover and a poet is a successful challenge of the masculine standards of 
heroism. Unfortunately, no Jacobean woman writer pursued the possibilities now 
open to them. 

Part III, "Lofty Walls All Around," is the final chapter of the book. Here Beilin 
accounts for women writers' return to the restrictive perspective of traditional 
feminine identity. She sees it as arising from their obvious return to defending 
women from misogynist attacks, and their developing the uniquely feminine genre 
of the mother's advice book. Beilin concludes that in merely modifying a masculine 
genre to discredit the style and views of the opponent, these writings do not make 
the breakthrough into a feminine consciousness. 

In Redeeming Eve, Beilin clearly spells out her theoretical position. Wherever 
appropriate she provides detailed analyses of the works of women writers to 
illustrate her theories and to support her conclusions. Evidently, her empathy is with 
these writers but it does not distort her critical appraisal of the varying quality of 
the writings nor her understanding of the society that formed and inhibited these 



Renaissance et Réforme / 261 

writers. Beilin also captures the underlying tension between the male artistic world 
and that of the woman artist trying to create. Her impeccable research leads her to 
the conclusion that even the most gifted and sensitively nurtured woman artist had 
to be not merely very talented but able to withstand the fact that she was constantly 
judged as a woman who only happened to write. 

The notes provided on each chapter are excellent and are followed by a list of 
works by women for the period. The accurate index that concludes the bibliograph- 
ical material enhances the usefulness of this truly outstanding contribution to 
feminist literature and the literature of Renaissance England. 

JOYCE T. FORBES, Lakehead University 



Michael J. Heath. Crusading Comrjionplaces: La Noue, Lucinge and Rhetoric 
against the Turks. Genève, Droz, 1986, 1 13p. 

Nul n'était mieux placé que M. J. Heath pour écrire un ouvrage sur les Turcs dans 
l'opinion européenne de la Renaissance. Il avait déjà composé d'excellents articles 
sur des sujets connexes, comme l'opinion des humanistes quant à l'origine de 
l'ethnie turque et celle d'Erasme à propos de la guerre contre l'empire ottoman, 
comme la participation de René de Lucinge à une expédition navale. De cet auteur, 
il a aussi préparé l'édition critique du traité De la naissance, durée et chute des 
Estais. Son ouvrage dans ce champ d'études est donc marqué par la somme des 
connaissances acquises depuis plus d'une décennie. Il contient d'ailleurs beaucoup 
plus que ce qu'annonce son titre et malgré sa brièveté, il constitue une synthèse 
riche et vivante des conceptions entretenues au seizième siècle sur la guerre contre 
les Turcs. 

Ecartant d'emblée la vision positive développée sur la Turquie à partir des récits 
de voyageurs, dont C. D. Rouillard s'était déjà fait l'analyste, M. J. Heath entend 
ne s'intéresser qu'aux textes appelant à la guerre, d'où son choix de La Noue qui, 
en deux chapitres de ses Discours, propose une stratégie militaire d'alliance de tous 
les chrétiens pour la prise de Constantinople, et de Lucinge, aux propos plus 
machiavéliques de «déstabilisation» de l'empire ottoman. Techniques, ces deux 
textes ne sont cependant pas dépourvus des lieux communs qui accompagnent toute 
propagande offensive contre la Sublime Porte, sur la barbarie des Turcs, leur volonté 
de domination universelle, le gémissement des peuples qui subissent leur joug. Mais 
M. J. Heath ne se contente pas de montrer comment ces généralités rhétoriques sont 
dépassées par les perspectives dynamiques et dialectiques de La Noue et de 
Lucinge. 11 rétablit tout le système des médiations qui relie les conceptions 
bellicistes de ces auteurs à la pensée et à l'imaginaire collectifs de leur temps. 

Sous un titre un peu réducteur se cache alors un ouvrage qui appartient à l'histoire 
des mentalités de laquelle il fournit une précieuse démonstration. Négligeant 
rénumération des lieux communs rhétoriques et la paraphrase des deux traités, M. 



262 / Renaissance and Reformation 

J. Heath structure avec bonheur son analyse autour de trois notions: la nécessité et 
la justice d'une guerre anti-turque, les facilités pour la mener, les profits escomptés. 
Ces aspects lui permettent de brosser un panorama très vivant de la littérature 
belliciste de l'époque, dans lequel les arguments éclipsent les lieux communs, et où 
les références aux idées de La Noue et de Lucinge sont dispersées et intégrées dans 
un éventail, pour ne pas dire un bataillon, de propositions soutenues par une 
trentaine d'auteurs de toutes nationalités. 

Non seulement M. J. Heath déplore-t-il ces notions dans un ordre qui assure leur 
lisibilité et qui subordonne Is énoncés particuliers à des catégories générales 
destinées à les subsumer et à les éclairer, mais encore en tire-t-il des interprétations 
qui permettent de mesurer l'évolution globale des mentalités. Ainsi de la con- 
troverse connue entre Luther, très réservé à l'égard de la «guerre sainte» (c'est 
d'ailleurs à l'occasion d'une campagne de vente des indulgences pour recueillir des 
fonds de croisade que commença la Réforme) et ses contradicteurs Dobneck et Eck, 
M. J. Heath retient le résultat, celui d'une conception nouvelle de l'empire ottoman, 
conçu comme une entité politique souveraine, et non plus comme un simple 
adversaire religieux. De la même façon, il souligne comment les plaintes des 
humanistes devant l'occupation de la Grèce par des musulmans incultes ont 
remplacé les lamentations médiévales sur le triste sort de la Jérusalem conquise. Il 
rappelle que le traitement à réserver aux musulmans conquis a engendré une 
querelle sur la conversion forcée, fort influencée par les dissidences con- 
fessionnelles qui marquent le seizième siècle. 

Chacune des notions clefs fait l'objet d'un développement articulé en quelques 
sections. Encore là, le déroulement est logique et clair; l'accent mis sur la signifi- 
cation globale qui se trouve étayée par de multiples considérations. Les contradic- 
tions, les divergences, les différences sont soumises à un traitement qui privilégie 
tantôt la vision globale, tantôt l'enjeu dialectique lorsque le consensus fait 
manifestement défaut, ce qui est fréquent. Enfin, les opinions de Bodin, toujours 
dissemblables, sont remises dans une juste perspective d'ensemble, malgré la 
notoriété de l'auteur. Le même sort attend les louables tentatives pacifistes 
d'humanistes célèbres comme Erasme, puis Grotius, minces filets dans le grand 
courant belliciste. 

Tous les éléments qui composent la trame de la représentation des Turcs dans 
cette littérature propagandiste sont de plus rattachés aux formes contemporaines de 
l'imaginaire et de la sensibilité, aux engagements idéologiques et aux intérêts des 
groupes, ce qui jette d'utiles lueurs sur le rapport de ce sujet particulier avec le 
climat intellectuel de la Renaissance. 

Faut-il, pour satisfaire aux conditions du compte rendu, chercher des failles, 
souligner par exemple le caractère un peu redondant d'une section (I, iii), manifester 
des réserves à l'égard d'une conclusion où La Noue est un peu rapidement confronté 
au «cynisme» des Politiques, relever des omissions, volontaires ou non, dans la 
bibliographie des documents d'époque, comme le Cohortatio ad Carolum ... de 
Sepùlveda, le Ad principes Germanos et bellum Turcis inférant exhortaria de 



Renaissance et Réforme / 263 

Hutten, les trois libelles français anti-turcs des années 1570, etc. L'économie 
générale de l'ouvrage ne semble nullement souffrir de ces lacunes. S'il est déplus 
tout à fait compréhensible qu'un livre paru en 1986 ne mentionne pas les articles 
de R. White et de L. Jensen parus en 1985, il est plus étonnant que M. J. Heath n'ait 
pas expliqué les limites de sa bibliographie, relativement courte, pour la critique 
contemporaine. Est-ce l'ignorance de la langue allemande qui l'a amené à négliger 
les études de K. Beydilli, H. Sturmberger, H. Lampartner, E. Benz, C. J. Cosack et 
H. Pfefferman? Sans doute. Plus étonnante est l'absence de mention des classiques 
de J. W. Allen, R Coles et L. von Ranke sur l'impact de l'empire ottoman en Europe. 
Mais solidement appuyé sur les ouvrages les plus importants, et surtout sur les 
documents d'époque, l'ouvrage de M. J. Heath s'impose à l'attention par sa solide 
architecture; il suscite l'intérêt par la maestria de sa démonstration; il fait la preuve 
qu'un court ouvrage peut traiter de façon approfondie d'un vaste sujet. 

PIERRE-LOUIS VAILLANCOURT, Université d'Ottawa 



The Entertainment of His Most Excellent Majestie Charles II, by John Ogilby, 
London, 1662, a facsimile introduced by Ronald Knowles. Binghamton: Medieval 
& Renaissance Text & Studies, 1988. Pp. 56, 195. 

The Medieval & Renaissance texts & Studies series aims to publish "books that are 
needed," and with the publication of this facsimile of John Ogilby's Entertainment, 
a series of triumphal arches to celebrate the restoration of Charles II, they have hit 
the mark. 

The first edition of the Entertainment, probably first sold on the day of the king's 
royal entry, 22 April 1661 , provided a relatively brief description of the pageants built 
by London to honour the monarch. The second edition was much enlarged in format 
and in content by the addition of engravings by David Loggan and Wenceslaus Hollar, 
Elias Ashmole's account of the coronation (an account censored, corrected, and 
approved by Sir Edward Walker, Garter King of Arms), and a host of references to the 
classical sources of Ogilby's visual and verbal motifs. To make either of these editions 
more accessible would be a worthwhile enterprise, for the entertainment of Charies II 
marks both the end of a tradition of royal entries into London that can be traced back 
to 1 393 and, through the representation of Charies as the new Augustus the inauguration 
of "what was to become an evaluative term for an entire period - the Augustan age" (p. 
41 ). The second edition, as Ronald Knowles points out, does have special significance: 
"the most elaborate surviving document for any English festival" its "range of more 
than a hundred and thirty sources almost amounts to a compendium of seventeenth- 
century English neoclassicism" (p. 10). 

This facsimile of the Entertainment is clear and complete, the volume sturdy and 
reasonably priced; that is, little of the magnificence of Ogilby's original large folio 
remains. To my mind it is unfortunate that this facsimile reproduces the same copy 



264 / Renaissance and Reformation 

of the Entertainment (the Huntington Library's) already widely available on micro- 
film through University Microfilms of Ann Arbor, and it does so without any 
editorial apparatus in which lacunae in the copy might be filled. Reducing the 
original by about 35% does not adversely affect the text, but it does result in blurred 
or darkened features in the engravings; indeed, crucial details of the engraving of 
the first arch of triumph are more sharply delineated on the available microfilm than 
in this facsimile. But more important than the quality of the reproduction is the need 
for some discussion of the reasons for a facsimile of this particular work, rather 
than, let's say, a transcription on disk or on-line. A glance at the other accounts of 
English royal entries reveals the steady, increasing intrusion of classical lore upon 
accounts of such entertainments: references to Virgil appear infrequently and 
parenthetically in early Tudor texts; larger and more various, the citations of 
classical authorities fill the margins of Ben Jonson's masques and entertainments; 
and what were marginal in Jonson make up the body of Ogilby's text. The great 
occasion and the civic pageants produced to aggrandize it further are, paradoxically, 
dwarfed by the classical allusions in the printed texts, allusions which break up the 
record of the city's dramatic offering. Neither the art of the book nor the interplay 
of dramatic elements by which each pageant makes its meaning are of much interest 
to Ronald Knowles however. 

What is of interest to Knowles is the "common literary tradition" that supplied 
royalist panegyrists and John Ogilby with a series of "concatenated themes" (p. 27). 
King Charles was hailed as Augustus, messiah, and lord of the seas, the last being 
a direct rejection of Dutch claims to maritime dominion. The time was celebrated 
as a phoenix period, as the start of the golden age (which to London's mercantile 
interests meant an age of more gold for them), and as the Platonic Great Year "when 
the sphere's are rowl'd / Back to the Loyal points they kept of old" (p. 27). Focusing 
on the verbal and pictorial topicality of the Entertainment triumphal arches, 
Knowles argues that "Ogilby's propaganda was a formulation of the discrete 
allusions of a year of tumultuous panegyric and related literature which repeatedly 
turned to Virgilian themes" (p. 22); indeed he goes further, claiming that the first 
pageant was "the most complete formation of a politically Augustan framework in 
the period" (p. 2 1 ). This analysis of Ogilby's use of panegyric topoi of the day could 
be criticized for being narrow, even at points inconsequential, were it not for what 
the analysis suggests about the habits of mind of Ogilby and his audience. "Read- 
ing" the pageantic structures required an appreciation of rhetorical amplification in 
visual and verbal terms, a recognition of "imagistic corollaries" (p. 40), and an 
awareness of the "double symmetry" of the design of the arches, which make their 
meanings through "the symbolic relationship between back and front, accentuated 
by the relationship of left to right" (p. 20). No wonder that the triumphal arches 
were intended to remain standing not just for the busy day of the royal entry, but 
for a year. 

Besides this study of the rich allusiveness of the pageants, Knowles also provides 
a solid, traditional introduction to the Entertainment. He acknowledges the special- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 265 

ized studies of Ogilby's life and work by other scholars and makes use of other kinds 
of documentary evidence of the royal entry, such as financial records and the 
opinions of contemporary diarists. He argues convincingly that the artificer "who 
desires to have his Name conceal'd" (p. 12) was Sir Balthazar Gerbier, through 
whom Rubens influenced Ogilby's Entertainment. And Knowles sets the royal entry 
in its historical contexts, national, municipal, and personal. Although the change in 
government of the nation remains most important, the discussion of Charles's 
readiness to re-schedule events, play traditional roles, and alter ceremonies so as to 
fulfill the prophecies made about him and his restoration is most interesting and 
most suggestive for the study of other English royal entries. 

Careful and searching in his scholarship, Ronald Knowles is also forthright about 
his special angle on John Ogilby's Entertainment. As a result, the introduction is as 
unpretentious as the facsimile, a clear reproduction of a clean copy of Ogilby's work 
and a valuable addition to the MRTS series. 

C. E. MCGEE, University of St. Jerome's College 



R.J. Schoeck. Erasmus grandescens: the growth of a humanist's mind and 
spirituality. Bibliotheca humanistica & reformatorica. Vol. 43. Nieuwkoop: De 
Graaf, 1988. Pp. 176. 

In the preface to Erasmus grandescens, Richard J. Schoeck states that the purpose 
of his book is "to consider Erasmus the man, as well as to study the humanist, the 
scholar and theologian, and to offer an interpretation which emphasizes the remark- 
able growth of Erasmus as a scholar and writer" (p. 10). This collection of essays 
does traverse all periods of Erasmus' life and does strike a balance between Erasmus 
the private person and Erasmus the scholar, but as it is a collection of essays, 
Erasmus grandescens does not possess the continuity of a biography. Rather, the 
cogency of Erasmus grandescens lies in its elucidation of the major questions and 
controversies connected with Erasmus' person and works. 

In the first chapter, "The Place of Erasmus Today," Professor Schoeck addresses 
the problems of the modem critic of Erasmus. He notes that "we have to mark 
Erasmus as a man whose work is today condemned to fragmentation, for we are 
compelled to read it in separated contexts and unrelated approaches; a man who 
becomes - as the burden of the past tends to harden inherited views and judgement 
of him by scholars whose sense of the whole of past tradition tends to diminish - a 
man who becomes, that is to say, progressively more difficult to understand" (p. 
19). Schoeck encourages modern scholars to make an effort to comprehend the past 
and to become somewhat detached from their own age. He considers it the business 
of present-day humanists to transmit tradition, but warns that this transmission must 
be creative, for "living tradition is process, not product" (p. 27). 



266 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Schoeck's portrait of Erasmus the person revolves mainly around the transitions 
in Erasmus" life and the decisions which the humanist had to face in order to effect 
those changes. Schoeck recreates the spiritual life in which Erasmus participated at 
the monastery of Steyn, and discusses the humanist's reasons for his revolt against 
monastic life. Schoeck admits that much information about Erasmus' friends and 
contemporaries in the monasteries must be conjectured. When treating Erasmus' 
entrance into the service of the bishop of Cambrai, Schoeck takes the novel 
approach of presenting the bishop's role in selecting Erasmus as his secretary. He 
thus diverges from the usual attitude, which puts Erasmus in the manipulative 
position of attempting to manoeuvre his way out of the monastery. Finally, Schoeck 
examines the motives behind Erasmus' decision to go to Paris for theological 
studies, and his eventual abandoning of the course. 

The investigation of Erasmus' intellectual life in Erasmus grandescens concen- 
trates on his early development as a humanist. The influence of Rudolph Agricola 
on Erasmus' humanistic and theological concepts and values is thoroughly ana- 
lyzed. Descriptions of the course of studies which Erasmus would have followed at 
Paris and of contemporary Parisian scholars are also included. Erasmus' mature 
scholarship is discussed as part of the essay on his sojourns in England. 

Schoeck's consideration of Erasmus' works centres on his letters and The Praise 
of Folly. Schoeck's guidelines for the interpretation of Erasmus' letters are impress- 
ive. His rhetorical reading of The Praise of Folly is also stimulating. 

Erasmus' influence on his contemporaries is viewed both through his personal 
contacts and the circles that were formed because of them, and through the 
transmission of his thought via print. Schoeck is careful to define "influence" and 
proceeds systematically to discuss the evidence for Erasmus' influence through 
primary sources, such as printing, secondary sources, as the imitation of models, 
and indirect ones, as the nature of fame. 

Erasmus grandescens is, for the most part, written in outline form. Much of the 
information is condensed, with extensive footnotes reinforcing the text. Still, 
Schoeck manages to impart considerable depth to the events of Erasmus' life, the 
people who surrounded him, and the intellectual and spiritual context of "the harvest 
of the Middle Ages" in which his mind functioned. 

JACQUELINE GLOMSKI, University of Toronto 



Nicholas Howe. Migration and Mythmaking in Anglo-Saxon England. New Haven 
and London: Yale University Press, 1989. Pp. ix-xii, 198. 

It is commonplace knowledge among most scholars of medieval and Renaissance 
British literature that medieval and Renaissance history in England was written by 
historiographers to serve purposes apart from the mere indifferent chronicling of 
events. Successive generations of Britons such as the Norman Anonymous, Gildas, 



Renaissance et Réforme / 267 

and the Venerable Bede composed histories of England not only to provide accounts 
for posterity but also to explain the past. English historiography, therefore, was less 
documentary than it was definitive; English historians interpreted the past - they 
did not recollect it, except in the spirit of Anglo-Saxon imagination, harmonized by 
legend and myth. 

Nicholas Howe's book. Migration and Mythmaking in Anglo-Saxon England, 
focuses upon and details the significance of the migration myths embedded in many 
of the early English histories. His study reveals that these myths embraced sacred 
history and translated that history into the events of secular experience. Further- 
more, the sacred history most useful to the historians as a paradigm for the founding 
of the English nation was that of ancient Israel, but not only because the history of 
the Hebrew Exodus was familiar story of Christian Scripture. Rather, and more 
importantly for England, the conventional interpretation of the Hebrew Exodus, in 
both Judaic and Christian tradition, suggested that the ancient Semitic peoples who 
settled in the land of Canaan (now Palestine or Israel) were providentially guided 
to their appointed holy land by a beneficent god who delivered them from Egyptian 
slavery across a great sea. Howe therefore proposes that the "biblical narrative of 
a dispossessed people's journey to a new homeland across a great sea was particu- 
larly resonant for the Anglo-Saxons because of their ancestral migration from 
continent to island" (72). The argument is persuasive. As Howe's study points out, 
the mythology of migration is not confined to an isolated source; the whole of 
British mythography is informed by it. 

Indeed, Howe observes that the substance of the migratory myth is not confined 
only to the prose histories but is celebrated in Old English verse as well. As he writes 
of the Beowulfpoei, "The myth exists in the very texture of his poem, that is, in the 
use of geography as a narrative conviction" (145). Indeed, the dynamic of the 
Beowulf poem, he continues, is the essence of all great myth: "it links the narrative 
moment {we gefmnon) with the past {in geardagum) of another place {Gar-Dena)" 
(149). 

The migration myth, as Howe notes, does not inform many of the minor literary 
works of the period, but the fact that the migration myth does not appear in such 
works as The Dream of the Rood or the poems of Cynewulf does not diminish "its 
centrality and vitality for [Anglo-Saxon] culture" (179). There is ample evidence 
of the myth in Alcuin of York and Wulfstan to support a claim for its authority and 
widespread recognition among the Anglo-Saxon peoples. Hence, the pervasiveness 
of the myth, despite its inapplicability to all literature of the era, demonstrates its 
importance and function as a normative, interpretive principle of self-understanding 
for a people in a new land who believed their migration to have been nothing less 
than the occasion of yet another divinely-appointed migratory exodus modeled upon 
the example of the deliverance of ancient Israel from Egyptian captivity. 

Howe's book is of value not only to scholars of medieval English literature but 
highly suitable for mythographers, cultural historians, anthropologists, and theolo- 
gians. Documentation is thorough, and most footnotes are annotated; the bibliogra- 



268 / Renaissance and Reformation 

phy is exhaustive. This study complements Howe's precedent scholarship and 
assumes, by its authority and integrity of presentation, the status of a standard in 
contemporary scholarship relevant to Anglo-Saxon England. 

DANIEL WRIGHT, Aulmm University 



Ronsard et la Grèce. 1585-1985. Actes du colloque d'Athènes et de Delphes, 4-7 
octobre 1985, présentés par Kyriaki Christodoulou, Paris, Nizet, 1988, "Publica- 
tions de l'Union scientifique franco-hellénique, série "Recherches no 3", Pp. 350. 

"Ronsard et la Grèce", sujet premier s'il en fut, et que l'on en traite à Athènes et à 
Delphes! Les organisateurs, Kyriaki Christodoulou en tête, ne pouvaient trouver 
meilleure justification. Essayons de rendre compte de ce riche et beau colloque. 
Plusieurs idées neuves s'y sont manifestées en ce qui concerne le rôle du monde 
grec dans la réflexion théorique de Ronsard, dans la constitution des modèles et 
dans l'image que le poète laisse de lui à la postérité. 

Le rôle de la Grèce dans l'entreprise théorique que Ronsard poursuivit toute sa 
vie a donné lieu à des communications d'un grand intérêt (première partie: "Ronsard 
et les valeurs grecques" et quatrième partie: "La Grèce dans la poétique de 
Ronsard"). L'héritage de la mythologie hellénique fait l'objet de nombreuses 
communications de la deuxième partie: "Ronsard et la mythologie grecque": elles 
nous introduisent au coeur de l'imaginaire ronsardien. On reprend, dans une 
troisième partie, l'importante question des modèles ("Ronsard et les lettres 
grecques"). Enfin, quelques communications esquissent la fortune de l'hellénisme 
ronsardien ou explorent la voie comparative (cinquième partie: "Ronsard: sa place 
dans la critique et la littérature comparée"). 

S' inspirant de Roger Zuber, Franca Bevilacqua-Caldari montre, à travers Colletet 
et son Discours de l 'Eloquence et de l 'Institution des Anciens ( 1 636), que les débats 
littéraires du dix-septième siècle reflètent les mêmes préoccupations et obéissent 
aux mêmes idéologies que ceux du seizième siècle. Colletet et les libertins qui 
évoluaient autour de lui ont fixé les marques d'une continuité littéraire - fondée sur 
l'imitation composite - entre la Pléiade et les doctrines contemporaines. Décrivant 
les plaidoyers de Ronsard pour l'affranchissement de la Grèce et son soutien aux 
exilés grecs réfugiés en France, Kyriaki Christodoulou met en exergue le rôle 
historique capital de Ronsard au sein du grand courant philhellène qui se développe 
en France au seizième siècle. Madeleine Le Merrer revient sur la généalogie de 
Francus, la précise à l'aide des travaux de Colette Beaune et suit le parcours du 
guerrier jusqu'à "la nouvelle Troie: Paris". Ce souverain troyen est marqué par le 
modèle médiéval du roi soucieux des fins dernières de son peuple; ainsi, le poème 
épique doit servir non seulement à la restauration des valeurs nationales mais aussi 
à marquer le besoin d'une régénérescence qui passe par la purification des actes du 
roi. Gilbert Schrenck est l'auteur d'une contribution fort intéressante sur les Hymnes 



Renaissance et Réforme / 269 

de 1555-1556. Constatant que la structure du recueil est régie par des alternances 
entre histoire et mythologie, il s'interroge sur la signification de la coexistence d'un 
temps "primordial" et d'un temps "historial". Gilbert Schrenck montre qu'au-delà 
du "désordre" apparent des Hymnes, qui est le fait d'une esthétitque pensée en 
termes de "varietas" et de "copia", les Hymnes établissent non seulement un 
dialoque avec les Grands, à travers la double référence à l'histoire et à la 
mythologie, mais aussi un dialogue avec eux-mêmes, et instaurent une réflexion sur 
l'art et la place du poète, associée aux impératifs du juste milieu. 

Alain-Maurice Moreau ouvre la section "Ronsard et la mythologie grecque" par 
un article très clair sur l'anabase (escalade du ciel) présomptueuse. Il montre, chez 
Ronsard, l'importance et l'ambivalence du mythe des Géants: il peut symboliser à 
la fois les affrontements entre catholiques et protestants et l'élan des Muses 
conduisant à la gloire et à l'immortalité. Ronsard orchestre les figurations non 
seulement pour dénoncer les dangers de V hubris, mais aussi à des fins esthétiques. 
Hélène Moreau, quant à elle, dégage les principaux éléments du mythe d' Alphée et 
d'Aréthuse: si les amours du fleuve et de la source ne président à aucun 
développement narratif important dans les poèmes de Ronsard, elles contribuent à 
l'instauration d'une géographie mythique dont les prolongements créent une 
orchestration de l'union. Géralde Nakam étudie le mythe de Cybèle, qui apparaît 
souvent dans l'oeuvre de Ronsard et comporte des significations spécifiques. Si le 
mythe fournit des métaphores de la fécondité, de la féminité et de la sexualité, il 
permet aussi au poète de la Franciade d'exalter les Valois, de construire une 
mystique royale. Il exprime surtout le travail poétique. Jeanne Papaspyridou 
s'intéresse à Aphrodite- Vénus. Grâce à elle, on voit comment le poète construit son 
image de Vénus à partir des textes grecs. La déesse est souvent la muse de Ronsard 
et son idéal de beauté féminine; l'imitation du poète n'est pas servile et Ronsard a 
enrichi l'image de Vénus. Giuliana Toso-Rodinis s'applique à montrer également 
la prégnance et la polysémie des mythes en examinant celui de Thésée et en 
dénombrant les différentes utilisations que Ronsard en a faites. Arnaud Tripet 
s'intéresse au mythe d' Hélène; le mythe au seizième siècle peut être une explication 
du monde et renvoyer à un syncrétisme pré-cartésien, il peut être aussi ornement 
poétique et correspondre à Vinventio rhétorique. A travers l'oxymoron et la syllepse, 
A. Tripet montre de façon très sensible comment le mythe traduit une angoisse et, 
selon la leçon de J.-R Vernant, est un "outil logique de médiation entre les 
contradictions insolubles au niveau de vécu". Il appartient à Jean-Louis Vieillard- 
Baron de clore la partie réservée au mythe. Examinant ce que devient chez Ronsard 
le Narcisse d'Ovide, le critique montre que c'est toute l'aventure poétique de 
Ronsard qui se fait jour à travers le mythe. Celui-ci correspond à une image 
emblématique de la création poétique et enregistre, au cours de la carrière de 
Ronsard, le "déplacement du désir". 

Robert Aulotte ouvre la troisième section en mesurant les influences de Plutarque 
sur l'oeuvre de Ronsard. Il est indéniable que Ronsard connaissait Plutarque, et il 
lui a d'ailleurs rendu hommage, ainsi qu'au Plutarque français, Amyot. Mais 



270 / Renaissance and Reformation 

l'oeuvre du poète ne présente jamais des emprunts indiscutables ou des marques 
probantes des transpositions: elle fait entendre seulement des échos du Chéronéen. 
Charles Béné s'attache à montrer l'impact de l'oeuvre de Théocrite sur l'économie 
de l'édition des Amours de 1560 et plus spécialement du Deuxième Livre. Ce dernier 
livre doit au poète grec tant son équilibre architectural que son inspiration. 
L'influence de la Grèce sur la Franciade n'est que superficielle, nous dit Roger 
Dubuis. Une des causes de l'échec de l'oeuvre serait une mauvaise "assimilation" 
du modèle grec en "porte-à-faux, vis-à-vis de ses lecteurs, comme vis-à-vis de 
lui-même". Comme Charles Béné, Hélène Nais s'intéresse à l'influence de 
Théocrite sur Ronsard: importance de la figure d'Adonis et caractère fragmentaire 
de l'imitation. La contribution d'Isabelle Pantin s'inscrit dans la même veine que 
celle de Roger Dubuis. Même si la Franciade se déclare avec ostentation oeuvre 
d'imitation homérique, Ronsard transforme son modèle par superposition d'autres 
textes de référence et rend ambigu le projet initial: "La cause formelle et la cause 
matérielle ne concordent pas". Ce n'est pas l'influence générale de V Anthologie 
grecque sur Ronsard qui intéresse Henri Weber, mais les traductions que le poète 
en fait. Cette traduction est complexe et se révèle une imitation-création d'une 
grande variété. 

Dans le premier article de la quatrième partie, Andrée Comparot- Bouchard 
constate que Ronsard préfère à la pensée artistotélicienne un platonisme qui 
répondrait à la pensée chrétienne. Analysant des lettres de Pic de la Mirandole et 
de Bembo, A. Comparot-Bouchard estime que la préface des Odes se fonde sur les 
termes de ces deux acteurs et que VArt poétique en développe les principes. Jean 
Lafond apporte une contribution précieuse sur la spécificité de la poétique des 
Sonets pour Hélène . Si la formule "Hélène est mon Parnasse" relève de la rhétorique 
amoureuse, elle n'en imprime pas moins sa marque au recueil. On assiste à un 
retournement du topos pétrarquiste de l'amour dicté par un destin aveugle. Le 
renoncement aux Muses, amorcé comme un paradoxe en 1552, trouve son 
aboutissement logique avec les Sonets pour Hélène. La jeune femme n'est plus 
essentiellement médiatrice entre le poète et les dieux, son individualité y gagne, 
ainsi que son autonomie. Le poète n'est plus "vates", mais il chante admirablement 
dans une tonalité humaine. Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani analyse de très près 
l'aristotélisme esthétique de Ronsard. Le vraisemblable est, chez Aristote, une 
catégorie d'ordre logique; il se définit par rapport au nécessaire. Le nécessaire et le 
vraisemblable bordent les deux modalités de la représentation. Quant au possible, 
objet d'imitation de la poésie, il peut l'être selon le nécessaire ou selon le vraisem- 
blable. Dans la Poétique, le vraisemblable est un concept et il est défini par la 
logique. Chez Ronsard, lecteur d' Aristote, le vraisemblable correspond seulement 
à une spécification de la Poésie opposée à l'Histoire, domaine du vrai. L'opposition 
du vraisemblable et de la vérité se substitue à l'opposition aristotélicienne entre ce 
qui s'est passé en effet et ce qui est susceptible d' advenir; le vraisemblable est ainsi 
ramené au possible. Le vraisemblable n'est plus qu'une notion, la vraisemblance, 
et elle définit la spécificité de la poésie en lui accordant pour objet la fiction. Vision 



Renaissance et Réforme / 27 1 

appauvrie de la philosophie d'Aristote, mais gain considérable pour le poète! 
Evanghélos Moutsopoulos reprend la question du platonisme et son rôle sur 
l'inspiration du poète. Ronsard défend la conception du poète énergumène, purifié, 
brûlé par les quatre fureurs. Le poète est à la fois agent (il traduit les messages des 
dieux) et passif (il est un possédé qui crée inconsciemment). 

Ouvrant la cinquième partie, Jacques Bailbé nous offre une belle étude à propos 
de l'influence de Ronsard sur Garnier. Procédant par contamination d'épisodes 
divers, Garnier pratique une imitation féconde, transformant la signification pro- 
fonde dont il s'inspire. Claude Faisant est l'auteur d'une contribution très riche 
portant sur l'histoire de la réception chez Ronsard. A l'époque classique, on 
condamne principalement le poète pour sa conception de l'imitation. Cette attitude 
met en lumière le rôle décisif des schémas historico-critiques dans la construction 
des mythes culturels qui gouvernent l'histoire de la réception. Puis l'auteur éclaire 
les mutations épistémologiques qui renouvellent le préjugé anti-hellénique dans les 
années 1880-1820; il montre enfin comment ce préjugé s'infléchit pour se réduire 
nettement dans les années 1830. Signalons encore qu'en fin de volume, Claude 
Faisant est l'auteur d'un rapport de synthèse très réussi. Kazimierz Kupisz apporte 
un éclairage supplémentaire sur l'onomastique d'Hélène. Il rapproche Ronsard de 
Jean Kochanowski, un contemporain polonais, qui s'est lui aussi montré sensible 
au souvenir d'Hélène de Troie, mais en "élève plus respectueux des anciens que le 
poète français si inlassablement soucieux de se distinguer d'eux". Edgar Pich se 
donne également pour but d'interroger la "fonctionnalité" d'Hélène dans une étude 
comparative portant sur les Sonets pour Hélène de Ronsard et les Poèmes antiques 
de Leconte de Lisle. E. Pich met fort bien en lumière les voies de la rêverie 
onomastique autour du nom d'Hélène et montre les rapports d'opposition, 
significatifs culturellement, qui permettent de confronter, par delà les siècles et les 
mentalités différentes, l'imaginaire des deux auteurs. Comme l'indique le titre du 
dernier article, "Sappho, Ronsard, Elytis: esquisses pour une phénoménologie de la 
poésie erotique", Patrick Quillier tente de montrer la présence d'une 
phénoménologie du moi lyrique "au-delà de toutes les esthétiques restreintes" et 
des études biographiques. Étudiant les rapports entre la voix de l'aimée et la parole 
de l'amant, il décrit ce qu'il nomme "l'avènement de ce langage second qu'est le 
lyrisme" et montre que la poésie erotique, née en Grèce, a mené une aventure du 
langage qui met en jeu les relations du poète avec autrui et avec le monde. 

J'interromps ici cette recension. Il est difficile à la fois d'être fidèle à plus de 
vingt-cinq contributions et d'exercer les droits de la critique et du jugement. J'ai 
pensé être plus utile au lecteur en mettant l'accent sur le premier aspect. 

ANDRÉ GENDRE, Université de Neuchâtel 



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Old Series, Vol. XXVII, No. 4 1991 Ancienne Série, Vol. XXVII, No. 4 



CONTENTS / SOMMAIRE 



ARTICLES 

273 

Jean de Sponde: l'écriture poétique 

par Semplice Ambiana 

289 

English Puritanism and Festive Custom 

by Alexandra F. Johnston 

299 

Hamlet: The Dialectic between Eye and Ear 

by Mary Anderson 

REVIEWS / COMPTES RENDUS 

315 

Arthur F. Kinney and Dan S. Collins, eds. Renaissance Historicism: 

Selections from English Literary Renaissance 

reviewed by D. R. Woolf 

319 

R. Po-chia Hsia. The Myth of Ritual Murder. Jews and Magic in 

Reformation Germany 

reviewed by Ira Robinson 

320 

Massimo Miglio, Francesca Niutta, Diego Quaglioni, and Concetta Ranieri, 

eds. Un pontificato ed una città: Sisto FV (1471-1484) 

reviewed by Thomas V. Cohen 



323 

Paolo Prodi, The Papal Prince, 

reviewed by Rita Belladonna 

325 

William Baldwin. Beware the Cat: The First English Novel 

reviewed by William W. Barker 

327 

Gérard Defaux, Marot, Rabelais, Montaigne: l'écriture comme présence, 

compte rendu par Diane Desrosiers-Bonin 

330 

Rosemary O'Day, The Debate on the English Reformation, 

reviewed by Thomas F. Mayer 

331 

Paul R. Sellin, So Doth, So is Religion. John Donne and Diplomatic 

Contexts in the Reformed Netherlands, 1619-1620 

reviewed by Jeanne Shami 

333 

Christopher R. Armitage, Sir Walter Raleigh, an Annotated Bibliography, 

and John R. Roberts, George Herbert, an Annotated Bibliography 

of Modern Criticism 

reviewed by E. J. Devereux 

336 

Sara Heller Mendelson, The Mental World of Stuart Women. Three Studies. 

reviewed by Lorelei Cederstrom 



Jean de Sponde: récriture poétique 

SIMPLICE AMBIANA 

J_yepuis la fin du seizième siècle, les recueils collectifs^ - à l'exemple de 
L'Académie des poètes français (1599) et des Muses Gaillardes (1605), 
recueillies à Paris par Antoine du Breuil, du Recueil de diverses poésies 
(1597 ou 1598) et du Temple d'Apollon (161 1), publiés à Rouen par Raphaël 
du Petit Val ... - qui sont les moyens essentiels de diffusion de la poésie, 
nous ont habitués à goûter les poèmes comme de petites pièces finies, et à 
ignorer les notions de poète et d'oeuvre individuelle. 

Sans doute encouragée par la tradition romantique, - il suffit de penser aux 
titres: Harmonies, Les contemplations, Les chimères. Les fleurs du mal ... -, 
cette pratique éditoriale, trouve son prolongement dans les anthologies mo- 
dernes, de Cm{, La poésie française au IT siècle (1594-1630) (Paris, Boivin, 
s.d.), à M. Raymond, La poésie française et le maniérisme (1546-1610) 
(Genève, Droz, 1971), en passant par celles de Schmidt (1959) et Rousset 
(1961), et s'appuie lourdement sur l'esthétique de la forme poétique courte 
qu'est le sonnet. Louis Aragon ne qualifie-t-il pas cette petite unité poétique 
de "machine à penser"^ dont la division bipartite en huitain et en sizain 
comporte une tension équilibrante faisant du sonnet le poème autonome à 
forme fixe par excellence? 

Cette formule de diffusion de la poésie, dont Robert Me lançon souligne les 
intérêts commerciaux pour les recueils collectifs des seizième et dix-septième 
siècles, scientifiques et pédagogiques pour les anthologies modernes'^ a pour 
conséquences: de diluer la notion d'auteur, d'instituer l'écriture poétique 
comme une "ressource commune dans laquelle chacun puise librement","^ et 
de banaliser la poésie en l'intégrant dans des codes ou systèmes de conven- 
tions (pétrarquisme, maniérisme, baroque . . . ). 

Dans cette perspective, il y a lieu de saluer les efforts, au début du siècle, 
d'un Frédéric Lachèvre, pour restituer aux différents auteurs certains poèmes 
anonymes de ces recueils, et d'un A. Boase, à qui nous devons, en 1939, la 
première présentation moderne, dans la revue Mesures, des sonnets de la 
mort, et dont les inlassables travaux ont été couronnés par une édition des 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVII, 4 (1991) 273 



274 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Oeuvres littéraires de Jean de Sponde, dans la collection "Textes littéraires 
français", avec un avant-propos de M. Raymond, à Genève, chez Droz, en 
1978, sans oublier la tradition des "canzonières", ces recueils de sonnets 
intercalés de "canzone" ou chansons dans lesquels les poètes siciliens, et plus 
tard, Jean de Sponde et ses contemporains ont, soit chanté leur amour pour 
une femme,^ soit traité d'autres sujets comme la mort ou la passion de Jésus 
Christ.6 

Cette nouvelle perspective nous a appris à lire les recueils comme on lit 
n'importe quel livre, même si l'idée du florilège qu'on peut ouvrir au hasard 
et oià on peut apprécier n'importe quel sonnet reste forte; encouragée par 
l'apport de la linguistique, elle permet de considérer le canzonière - fût-il 
aussi court que cet ensemble de douze sonnets de Jean de Sponde - comme 
une totalité signifiante, dont l'écriture, saisie dans sa matérialité en tant que 
"l'homogénéité et l'indissociabilité de la pensée et du langage, ... , du 
signifiant et du signifié ... , du vivre et du dire",^ conduit, grâce au 
"paragrammatisme",* à l'exploration des "formes-sens".^ 

Notre analyse insistera davantage sur les sonnets: I, VII, et XII, principaux 
maillons de cette chaîne où Sponde observe le principe d'organisation du texte 
poétique, c'est-à-dire de la versification, qui consiste en l'établissement de 
rapports d'équivalence (ou paradigmatiques) entre différents points de la 
strophe (quatrain et/ou tercet), visibles à cerains niveaux surfaciels tels que 
- la rime dans son alternance masculine/féminine, - la spécialisation de 
l'alexandrin dans le traitement du sujet sérieux (la mort). Ces rapports 
prosodiques dans leur(s) interaction(s) avec les niveaux syntaxico- 
sémantiques (respect de l'unité de sens - c'est-à-dire de l'équivalence entre 
unités syntaxiques - au niveau de l'hémistiche, du vers et/ou de la strophe) 
tendent à induire (opération [ana]logique) des "effets de sens", notamment 
"symboliques", pouvant jouer un rôle déterminant dans l'interprétation du 
canzonière. 

Observons de plus près ce bref canzonière que Sponde, ce réformé converti 
au catholicisme, consacre au thème de la mort, au cours du dernier quart du 
seizième siècle. Ces douze sonnets, apparemment dépouillés de "tout parti 
pris dogmatique", ^^ fruits d'une méditation que le poète poursuit entre 1583 
et 1588, retracent avec une densité qu'on ne retrouve que chez les 
romantiques, - notamment Nerval et Verlaine - une destinée spirituelle. Ils 
nous plongent d'emblée dans un univers symbolique. 

Comme le souligne le dictionnaire des symboles: produit des quatre points 
cardinaux par les trois plans du monde, douze est le nombre des divisions 
spatio-temporelles; il divise le ciel, considéré comme une coupole, en douze 



Renaissance et Réforme / 275 

secteurs, les douze signes du zodiaque, qui sont mentionnés dès la plus 
haute antiquité. Ce nombre est d'une très grande richesse dans la sym- 
bolique chrétienne. En effet, la conbinaison du quatre du monde spatial et 
du trois du temps sacré mesurant la création-récréation donne le chiffre 
douze du monde achevé: c'est celui de la Jérusalem céleste (12 portes, 12 
apôtres, 12 assises ... ). Du point de vue mystique, le trois se rapporte à la 
Trinité, le quatre à la création; mais le symbolisme du douze reste iden- 
tique, à savoir un accomplissement du créé terrestre par assomption dans 
l 'incréé divin. Que Jean de Sponde se soit donc contenté de douze sonnets 
et qu'il les ait disposés comme il l'a fait ne manque plus de justification. 
On ne cède plus, comme J. Rousset, à la tentation d'une reconstruction qui 
placerait le sonnet XII à la place du premier, et le sixième à la place du 
douzième^^ et il n'y a plus lieu d'imposer au canzonière "une cohérence 
de lecteur moderne". Seuls importent les enchaînements du poète qui a 
placé son canzonière dans un Essay de quelques poèmes chrestiens et à la 
suite de ses Méditations sur les Psaumes (1588), ces titres ne sont pas de 
trop dans une production hantée de part en part par le "démon de 
l'analogie". 

Dans cette perspective, l'architecture du canzonière obéit à une rigueur 
remarquable qui la transfigure en un poème unique en plusieurs sonnets: I, 
les hommes mortels et entourés d'images funèbres oublient la fragilité de leur 
condition terrestre; II, "mais si faut-il mourir" confirme sur un ton de prêche 
l'inéluctabilité de l'événement; III, reprend les motifs de l'oubli et de la 
fragilité afin de poser sous forme interrogative la vanité des soucis, des 
"travaux" des humains engagés dans une "course à la mort"; IV, considération 
qui transfigure, au V, la vie en une succession de morts, "moytié de la vie est 
moytié de décez", et appelle au VI la critique de ceux qui se laissent aveugler 
par les "fascheux destours" de cette condition terrestre, au point de ne plus 
entrevoir les "beaux séjours" de l'univers céleste et éternel. 

VII, n'est pas sans rapport avec sa signification symbolique; nombre 
universellement connu selon le dictionnaire des symboles, comme celui 
d'une totalité en mouvement ou d'un dynamisme total (Il est la clef de 
l'Apocalypse et est fréquemment employé dans la Bible ^2). ^^ effet il 
marque un tournant, d'abord au niveau du ton, car le poète passe de 
l'invective adressée à un auditoire imaginaire à un "je" qui devient dans 
une forme d'association du nombre quatre qui symbolise la terre et le 
nombre trois qui symbolise le ciel, un lieu de rencontre de deux formes de 
réalités, un univers en mouvement: 



276 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Tandis que dedans l'air un autre air je respire, 
Et qu'à I'envy du feu j'allume mon désir, 
Que j'enfle contre l'eau les eaux de mon plaisir, 
Et que me colle à terre un importun martyre,". 

Relevons au passage un premier effet de parallélisme syntaxico-prosodique 
qui, à travers la reprise redondante de "[tandis] que," marquant individuelle- 
ment les vers, fait apparaître au niveau de l'hémistiche les quatre éléments: 
air, feu, eau et terre, constitués en pilier central du quatrain, autour desquels 
gravitent deux à deux, au niveau de la médiane, les verbes "Je respire" 
"J'allume" d'une part, "(me) colle", "J'enfle" d'autre part, et sur lesquels se 
fonde le processus métaphorique: 

je respire 
j'allume 





air 




feu 


j'enfle 


eau 


me colle 


terre 



Le respect de la règle d'alternance des rimes féminines et masculines dans 
une disposition embrassée - "respire" /"martyre" embrassant 
"désir"/"plaisir" - ne voile pas le caractère des noms masculins placés à la 
rime, le parallélisme strict qui marque les masculines: "mon désir"/"mon 
plaisir", et surtout la prédominance phonique du lui dans les deux quatrains 
qui forment le huitain (le "e" étant muet) et qui, ajoutée aux effets de la 
réversion^^ dans le premier et le troisième vers du premier quatrain: 

"dedans 



l'air 


un autre air . . . 


(élément) 


(vie) 


''l'eau 


les eaux" 


(élément) 


(inconsistance) 



et les reprises en écho dans le deuxième quatrain: "air" (v.5), ''monceaux" 
(v.6), "travaux" (v.8), "désir" (v.5), "plaisirs" (v.6), permettent d'induire 
des effets de sens obéissant à l'opposition monde physique/monde 
métaphysique, martyre terrestre/plaisir céleste. Ces oppositions, dans une 
superposition, permettent de faire ressortir un échange d'attributs, une 
synonymie entre la vie terrestre et la mort: "C'est mourir que de vivre en 
ceste peine extrême". Équivalence ainsi établie sur le mode de souffrance 
et dont le dernier tercet développe un autre versant sur le mode de 
l'inconsistance, sans oublier les jeux phoniques autour de (s'es) pard(t): 



Renaissance et Réforme / 277 

"Voilà comme la vie à l'abandon s'espar^ 
Chaque par/ de ce Monde en emporte sa parr. 
Et le moindre à la fin est celle de nous-mesme". 

Le passage du "Vous" des sonnets antérieurs au "Je" de ce sonnet VII 
implique la prise de conscience que ce n'est pas tant l'homme qui est mortel 
que c'est "Je", moi qui vais mourir, ce qui ne va pas sans anxiété: 

"A la fin je me trouve en un estrange emoy 
Car ces divers effets ne sont que contre moy". 

Cette focalisation indique sans doute aussi l'intégration du prêcheur dans 
l'ensemble d'une humanité - d'où le "/nous/-mesme" de clôture du sonnet 
- à la recherche d'une autre vie postulée par une autre équivalence implicite: 
la mort = la vie. L'esprit dans le corps, témoignage de la "vie", n'est plus 
saisi que comme réalité en mouvement et le combat pour la vie, une activité 
en sursis. 

VIII, enregistre et confirme désormais le destin commun, en associant le 
"je" et le "vous": "C'est le train de noz jours" en même temps que la leçon 
de l'Inconsistance 

" hé! commence d'apprendre 

Que ta vie est de Plume, et le monde de vent." 

et l'invective du IX, parallèlement à celle du II, condamne tous "ces 
lovayeurs", "Hommagers à la vie (terrestre) et 'felons' à la mort". Mais si 
le "je" est parmi "Je vogue en mesme mer", il se différencie par le détail de 
la conscience: 

" Je sçay que ceste mesme vie 

N'est rien que le fanal qui me guide au mourir." 

X, tout en dénonçant l'inanité de toute résistance à la mort, invite à se 
préoccuper de la vie de l'âme; mais si "pour vivre au ciel il faut mourir" sur 
terre, comme le constate le XI: "Ce n'en est pas pourtant le sentier raccourcy". 
Dès lors le sonnet XII est bien à sa place, qui vient dire sous forme de prière 
le combat et l'espoir du triomphe. 

Justifiant l'ensemble du canzonière, ce sonnet XII constitue le point 
d'aboutissement^"* de l'itinéraire spirituel d'un poète chrétien conscient de la 
double postulation simultanée, l'une vers Dieu, et l'autre vers Satan, le prince 
de ce "Monde", qui l'investit jusqu'à la tombe. Il s'inscrit dans la symbolique 



278 / Renaissance and Reformation 

chrétienne, comme un rite et comme une combinaison du créé et du non créé. 
Le rite est celui de la prière entendue, d'une part, comme une suite de formules 
exprimant le mouvement de l'âme tendant à une communication spirituelle 
avec Dieu et s 'intégrant à un culte ou une pratique et, d'autre part, comme 
une action. 

Comme prière, le sonnet établit une communication grâce au vocatif du 
quatrième vers "Seigneur" et à un ensemble d'interrogations portant sur des 
termes anatomiques attribués à Dieu: "Ton invincible main", "ta voix" et "ton 
oreille", expressions somme toute d'origine biblique. Cette communication 
qui s'achève par une affirmation confiante en la victoire divine, met aussi 
l'accent sur les éléments formels de sa fonction poétique en tant qu'un hymme 
à la (vraie) vie. 

Du point de vue formel, en effet, ce sonnet régulier comportant deux 
quatrains homophones où les féminines "(a) (e)nte" embrassent une fois de 
plus les masculines "-té", suivis d'une rime plate "-oi(s) (x)" et d'un dernier 
quatrain à rimes embrassées "(M)onde"/"-ra", présente des caractéristiques 
privilégiées de parallélismes, en tant qu'il est constitué de vers rapportés. ^^ 
Dans le premier quatrain, par exemple, si l'on désigne les vers respectivement 
par Al Bl B2 A2, on constate d'abord un parallélisme frappant entre Al et 
A2 / El et B2 où les mots de même catégorie grammaticale se trouvent en 
position d'équivalence, les verbes en A et les noms en B. D'autre part. Al est 
pour Bl ce que A2 est pour B2. Les noms et les verbes (tous au présent de 
l'indicatif) entrent en une combinaison qui transmue le poème en trois 
colonnes parallèles verticalement. Le quatrain peut alors se lire à la fois 
horizontalement et verticalement. Soit: 

Tout s'enfle (contre moy) tout m'assaut tout me tente 

Et le Monde et la chair et l'Ange révolté 

Dont l'onde dont l'effort dont le charme inventé 

(Et) m'abime (Seigneur) (et) m'esbranle (et) m'enchante 

A côté de sa fonction de coordination latérale, la conjonction "et" reprise 
six fois, remplit celle d'accumulation dont le caractère hyperbolique se lit 
dans la disproportion des éléments ainsi déchaînés contre un "moy" faible et 
solitaire qui n'a plus qu'à invoquer son "Seigneur", dans un cri d'alarme. 
Cette lecture verticale permet de déceler une rime intérieure "Monde"/"onde" 
dans la première colonne, la rendant ainsi non seulement parente, mais encore 
la métamorphosant par voie relative d'appartenance "dont" et par voie 
verbale "m'abisme" en un élément particulièrement mortel dirigé "contre 



Renaissance et Réforme / 279 

moy". D'autre part, relevons le strict parallélisme rythmo-syntaxique au 
niveau du second hémistiche entre les vers 2 et 3 où chaque nom masculin 
est accompagné d'un adjectif. Cette similitude prosodique s'ajoute aux pro- 
cessus de relation d'appartenance "dont" et de dynamique verbale 
"m'enchante" pour dire la menace de mort spirituelle d'un autre élément: 
l'enfer (royaume de "l'Ange révolté"). Entre ces deux éléments s'élève "la 
chair" non moins dangereuse et "dont l'effort" "m'esbranle". Les plaisirs de 
la chair entraînent la notion du péché, mort de l'âme. La vie de la chair se 
trouve ainsi placée sous le signe symbolique du danger permanent: du mal. 
On connaît en effet la fortune du symbolisme biblique nommant le diable 
prince de ce monde et représentant la vie terrestre comme un voyage en mer. 
En somme, ces trois colonnes évoquent trois menaces de mort qui déferlent 
surl'âme du poète. 

La double interrogative du second quatrain est symptomatique des 
tensions entre les structures syntaxiques et celles régies par le principe 
d'équivalence, influant ainsi sur leur projection dans l'axe des com- 
binaisons. Aussi peut-on s'appuyer sur le vers 10 " ... ton temple, ta main, 
ta voix" pour poursuivre la lecture verticale soit: 

Quelle nef Quel appuy quelle oreille dormante 

Sans péril sans tomber (et) sans estre enchanté 

Me donra(s) (tu) 

ton temple ton invincible main (et) ta voix si constante 

Les deux derniers vers du premier tercet se présentent sous forme de 
confrontation: "ton temple"/" Ange révolté"; "ta main"/"ceste chair"; "ta 
voix"/" ce Monde". Ce qui provoque aussi un décalage au niveau de la rime 
- reprise en écho de la rime relevée dans la première colonne du premier 
quatrain - de "Monde"/"Onde". Les vers 12 et 13 répètent sous le mode 
affirmatif les termes du deuxième quatrain où le poète se demande anxieuse- 
ment si Dieu lui donnera pour son salut, son "temple", son "invincible main" 
et sa "voix". Tous les verbes du deuxième tercet (il y en a quatre: "sera", 
"perdra", "mourra", "rompra") sont au futur. Ainsi, du point de vue des temps 
verbaux, le premier quatrain (Ql) est pour le premier tercet (Tl) - 
prépondérance du présent - , ce que le deuxième quatrain (Q2) est pour le 
deuxième tercet (T2) - prévalence du futur. Les décalages observés au niveau 
de la rime du sizain et les enjambements des vers 7-8 et 12-13, et les reprises 
à partir du deuxième quatrain des mots "temples", "main", "voix", 
accompagnent les décalages dans l'ordre du mètre et des mots, incurvant la 



280 / Renaissance and Reformation 

lecture verticale, puis influent aussi sur les lignes de nos colonnes, et enfin 
véhiculent l'impression de piliers en spirales. 

Si la tentation, menace de mort spirituelle investit l'homme jusqu'au 
dernier jour, le salut s'offre comme une certitude, et se trouve annoncé dès le 
premier sonnet. Les douze sonnets sur la mort forment en définitive comme 
un couronnement à la (vraie) vie. 

Le retour à ce sonnet inaugural nous permet de souligner qu'il reflète 
parfaitement un système mettant en évidence le principe d'équivalence: le 
parallélisme, en même temps qu'une figure caractéristique du raisonnement: 
l'analogie. 

"Mortels, qui des mortels avez prins vostre vie, 
Vie, qui meurt encor dans le tombeau du corps: 
Vous qui rammoncelez vos thresors des thresors 
De ceux dont par la mort la vie fust ravie: 

Vous qui voyant de morts leur mort entresuyvie. 
N'avez point de maisons que les maisons des morts, 
Et ne sentez pourtant de la mort un remors 
D'où vient qu'au souvenir son souvenir s'oublie? 

Est-ce que vostre vie adorant ses douceurs 
Déteste des pensers de la mort les horreurs. 
Et ne puisse envier une contraire envie? 

Mortels, chacun accuse et j'excuse le tort 

Qu'on forge en vostre oubly. Un oubly d'une mort 

Vous montre un souvenir d'une étemelle vie." 

Le poème s'inscrit dans le registre interpellatif par une forme de discours 
interpersonnel marqué par la présence simultanée du "je" et du groupe "vous" 
permettant d'identifier fictivement l'auteur de l'énoncé et le(s) destinaire(s), 
par des traces de structure argumentative qui impliquent un ordre nécessaire 
de succession ou au moins des indices d'une progressivité, et par un tonalité 
globale qui est celle du sermon. 

La construction formelle du sonnet repose sur un système généralisé de 
répétitions qu'on pourrait désigner sous le nom générique d'anominatio. Les 
répétitions ou parallélismes qui marquent individuellement les vers: 

"Mortels qui des mortels" v.l 

"Vos thresors des thresors" v.2 

" de morts, leur mort" v.5 



Renaissance et Réfonne / 281 

" de maisons que les maisons..." V.6 

" au souvenir son souvenir" v.8 

" en vostre oubly. Un oubly..." V.13 

ne sont qu'un cas particulier d'un système plus ou moins réversif qui 
organise l'ensemble du sonnet. Les quatrains sont construits sur des 
mouvements syntaxiquement parallèles: 

"Mortels, qui des ... "/ "Vie, qui . . . 

"Vous qui rammoncelez"/ "Vous qui voyant de morts 

dans lesquels le réseau de répétitions et d'échos à la césure est partout à 
l'intérieur des quatrains 

Ql [mor/or ... ; mortels/mortels; encor/corps] 

thresors/thresor 
[vie/i ... qui/vie; vie/qui; vie/ravie] 

Q2 [qui/entresuyvie; souvenir/souvenir/s'oublie] 

[ . . . mort/mort; morts/mort/remors] 

ou des tercets 

Tl [adorant/mort/horreurs] 

[tort/forge/mort] 
[vie/puisse/envier/en vie] 

T2 [oubly/oubly; souvenir/vie ...] 

est accentué par des équivalences fonctionelles externes. Au niveau des 
quatrains, le son [or] revient trois fois dans les mots à la césure et est souvent 
lié au mot "mort" par la consonne prévocalique /m/ (vers 1,4,5); de même, 
si le son [i] revient une fois au niveau du dernier quatrain, il occupe la césure 
par trois fois dans les tercets. Au niveau de la rime, la plupart des mots font 
écho soit à "vie" soit à "mort" avec une nette similitude d' occurences dans 
les quatrains. Quant à "vie" et "mort", termes-clés, ils se retrouvent par deux 
fois à la rime: vers 1 et 14 (vie) et vers 6 et 13 (morts). Dans les quatrains la 
rime féminine (ie) embrasse les masculines (or) et exploite souvent la 
consonne prévocalique en /v/ et /m/, sauf au vers 8 dominé en revanche par 
la triple allitération, en /s/, /ou/, et /v/: ce qui donne une certaine 
prédominance à "vie" et confirme l'impressions de couronnement. Du point 
de vue des catégories (f = féminin, m = masculin, s = singulier et p = pluriel): 



282 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Ql:N(f,s) -N(m,s) -N(m.p.) - V(3^ pers. s.) 

Q2:A(f,s) -N(m,p) - N(m,s) - V(3« pers. s.) 

Tl:N(f.p.) -N(f,p)- N(f.s) 

T2: N(m,s) - N(f,s) - N(f.s) 

Le caractère féminin de "vie", - au début Ql et à la fin de T2 - , irradie pour 
ainsi dire les autres catégories grammaticales. En soulignant les divers effets 
de parallélismes homophoniques, syntaxiques et sémantiques, on se rend 
compte que la distribution des "invariants" étant en effet rigoureuse, le petit 
nombre de "variations" apparaît d'autant plus efficace. 

Deux ruptures affectent ce jeu de reprises et de symétries, D'un côté, à la 
structure parallèle des quatrains construits sur le même modèle 
homophonique qui fait de Q2 le miroir et l'écho de Ql, s'opposent les 
structures distinctes des tercets, qui introduisent dans le système, une discor- 
dance. De l'autre, le réseau d'échos et d'équivalences produit une correspon- 
dance, non point entre l'ensemble Q et l'ensemble T, mais entre le bloc des 
quatrains et une partie des tercets (V3 et Tl et T2). On observe ainsi un double 
parallélisme: de Ql par rapport à Q2, de l'ensemble Q par rapport au quatrain 
constitué par les vers 11 à 14. Le sonnet est ainsi construit sur trois rimes au 
lieu de cinq, caractéristique qui rappelle les acrobaties des rhétoriqueurs. 

Structurellement les vers 9 et 10 restent isolés (isolement accentué par le 
système de distribution de rimes selon le schéma ABBA: un seul jeu de rimes 
en /eur/) et ce sont les seuls oià l'on peut lire l'interrogation fondamentale, à 
valeur affirmative, du choix entre la vie terrestre et la vie d'outre-tombe. 
L'homme aveuglé par les "horreurs" qu'inspire la dégradation du corps après 
la mort, et par les tentations des "douceurs" de la terre serait-il incapable 
d'envier un sort "contraire", celui de "l'éternelle vie"? Non sans doute! 

D'autre part, la construction du réseau thématique repose également sur un 
jeu de parallélismes et d'équivalences. Dans les quatrains apparaissent 
successivement deux termes distincts, la vie et la mort, renvoyant à deux 
paradigmes antithétiques de la biologie; ils ont en fait pour référence non 
seulement le monde physique, mais un univers culturel dans lequel ils sont 
en effet associés par une contiguïté textuelle, et qui leur assure des fonctions 
symboliques. La vie est définie par un ensemble d'apparences de douceurs, 
mais c'est une donnée qui n'est en somme qu'une parcelle d'une chaîne de 
morts. En revanche, les "horreurs" de la mort révèlent "un souvenir d'une 
éternelle vie". Toutes ces qualités sont moins des attributs de nature que des 
connotations établies par le code culturel de référence, le discours religieux. 
Cette réalité constamment en péril et périssante se charge de valeurs 



Renaissance et Réforme / 283 

mauvaises, et un interdif pèse sur ces "douceurs" santionnées dans la perspec- 
tive chrétienne par les indicibles souffrances de l'enfer, équivalent de 
"l'éternelle mort". En surimpression apparaît le paradis dont le nom est tu - 
encore qu'il ferait bien écho à "vie" - cet espace de bonheur ou locus amoenus 
à la fois attrayant et redoutable. Ainsi, la vie et la mort, différentes par leurs 
qualités, deviennent des figures synonymiques, se renvoyant leurs attributs. 

La dynamique du texte se fonde sur les perspectives successives du "Je" 
sujet de renonciation devant ces réahtés posées d'abord comme équivalentes. 
Le premier mouvement est d'observation: on voit se déployer devant le 
regard, lui-même mortel, un défilé de morts passés et récents. Cette vie 
enfermée dans le "tombeau du corps" devient le miroir d'une mort en acte. 
Dépourvue de consistance, d'existence autonome, la mort s'impose comme 
une enveloppe de l'être humain, reflétée par la conscience du sujet lyrique. 
Un deuxième mouvement corrige bientôt le premier: c'est un mouvement 
didactique qui récupère les fruits de l'observation pour asseoir sa leçon sur 
une antithèse qui ne néglige pas le jeu phonique: "Chacun diCcuseiy txcuse le 
tort". Dans l'espace que dessinent le premier et le dernier vers (v.l; 14), la 
"vie" prolongée en écho non seulement par les rimes extérieures et intérieures 
(v.9,13) mais encore par le son [i] qui (do)mine le dernier tercet, prend le pas 
sur la "mort" qui par son écho la concurrençait nettement dans les deux 
premiers quatrains, tout en changeant de statut: de valeur périssable, elle est 
devenue une valeur ''éternelle". On s'explique que le terme "vie" inaugure et 
clôture le sonnet au niveau de la rime et que ce sonnet I soit si proche de 
l'esprit du douzième par l'aspiration à l'éternité. 

L'unité de cette couronne à la vie que constituent les douze sonnets de Jean 
de Sponde n'est pas, on s'en doute essentiellement dans l'unicité du locuteur 
ou dans la contiguïté textuelle. Il ne s'agit pas seulement d'un ensemble de 
sonnets composés au hasard sur un sujet, la mort, et rassemblés pour les 
besoins d'une publication. L'importance phonique des trois rimes: /(v)i(e)/, 
/(m)or(t)/, /-eur(s)/ du premier sonnet constitue une matrice dont l'expansion 
investit pour ainsi dire l'ensemble du canzonière. Ainsi, la rime mineure 
/-eur/, devenant majeure dans les quatrains des sonnets II, IV et IX, reste liée 
par la connotation de la fragilité de la vie terrestre par opposition à la vie 
céleste. 

La redondance des deux autres rimes /i/, /or/, reprises chacune trois fois 
dans ce sonnet I, et qui impose /vie/ et /mort/ comme des mots-thèmes, permet 
de noter leur remarquable expansion rimique dans le canzonière. Leur con- 
stant retour à la rime avec tout ce que cela implique comme écho investit 
presque individuellement les sonnets: /(m)or(t)/ revient onze fois, soit neuf 



284 / Renaissance and Reformation 

fois dans les rimes masculines où "mort" comporte six occurences et deux 
fois dans les rimes féminines; /(v)i(e)/ revient douze fois, soit dix fois dans 
les rimes féminines où "vie" totalise sept occurences et deux fois dans les 
rimes masculines. Les rimes qui comportent "mort" ou lui font écho se 
distribuent dans les sonnets I, III, IV, V, IX et X. Celles qui comportent "vie" 
ou lui font écho se distribuent dans I, IV, V, VI, VIII, X, XI. La prédominance 
de "vie" dans une couronne qui se charge de la célébrer n'est plus un hasard, 
car on saisit à l'oeuvre, comme dirait M. Riffaterre, les mécanismes 
d'expansion et de conversion qui font entrer en compétition deux termes dont 
l'issue n'est pas une neutralisation, mais une promotion de l'un d'entre eux 
- ici l'antonyme - par le truchement d'un réseau de sonorités. ^^ Cette 
promotion de sonorités qui minent le canzonière est homologuée au niveau 
figuratif. 

Le premier sonnet, par exemple, développe la matrice: la vie est une mort, 
ou mieux, la vie terrestre est mortelle. Cette expansion, non seulement 
autorise les répétitions "mortels" ... "mortels" et autres déjà relevées dans le 
cadre de "l'anominatio", mais inaugure une succession de tableaux. En effet, 
dans chacune des dérivations synonymiques que développe l'expansion, le 
sujet est transformé en complexes descriptifs dont chacun dramatise une sème 
de "vie" en termes de "non-vie". Sont sélectionnés les sèmes qui suggèrent 
la mortalité: le sème "précarité" d'abord; dans l'usage, il se manifeste sous 
la forme d'épithètes nominalisées, "mortels qui des mortels": donnée ou 
reçue, la vie terrestre est perçue comme une valeur périssable, involontaire- 
ment cessible, tout comme les "thrésors", "les maisons" qui tout en étant liés 
au premier sème, génèrent celui de propriété - non propriété, de l'éphémère: 
ces trésors comme ces maisons furent possédés autrefois par ceux qui 
aujourd'hui sont morts. Enfin, le sème de la pérennité de cet événement qu'est 
la mort générée par la métaphore "tombeau du corps" conduit à un 
développement sous forme constative: "Et ne sentez pourtant de la mort un 
remors", puis interrogative: "D'où vient qu'au souvenir [mémoire] son sou- 
venir [rappel] s'oublie?", pour aboutir au recul devant les "horreurs" de la 
putréfaction qui font détester la mort, du moins par la pensée: "Déteste des 
pensers de la mort les horreurs". L'interrogation rhétorique cependant ouvre 
la voie au déploiement d'un sème de permanence de tout autre ordre: 
"l'éternelle vie", permet d'effectuer le saut existentiel dans une casuistique 
qui n'est autre qu'un mécanisme de conversion légitimant le jeu de mots 
"Chacun accuse/J' excuse le tort". Ainsi, et ce, tout au long du canzonière, au 
fur et à mesure que s'élabore l'expansion des deux mots-thèmes, on saisit 
parallèlement à l'oeuvre, le mécanisme de conversion. Si les deux termes - 



Renaissance et Réforme / 285 

"morts'V'vie" - jouissent d'un statut à peu près équivalent dans le premier 
sonnet, leur opposition laisse bientôt percevoir, à travers un échange 
d'attributs, une double équation: la vie est une mort; la mort est une vie. 

Et il est tout aussi remarquable que ces deux mots n'aient pas d'écho(s) à 
la rime - ou ne s'y retrouvent pas - dans les sonnets VII et XII, choisis comme 
autres sonnets charnières. Ce lipogrammatisme trouve sa justification pro- 
fonde dans le processus de désignation périphrastique, donc oblique, qui se 
manifeste dans chacun de ces deux sonnets. D'une part dans le sonnet VII, la 
mort cesse d'être un événement abstrait, universel, et investit la vie per- 
sonnelle du locuteur. Ce "je" prend conscience de son néant dans une 
méditation morose qui s'étend sur l'ensemble du sizain: 

"A la fin je me trouve en un estrange esmoy, 

Car ces divers effets ne sont que contre moy; 

C'est mourir que de vivre en ceste peine extrême. 

Voilà comme la vie à l'abandon s'espard, 

Chaque part de ce Monde en emporte sa part, 

Et la moindre à la fin est celle de nous [moy] même". 

D'autre part, le sonnet XII proclame, en même temps que le triomphe de 
Dieu sur le Monde, la certitude de salut de ce même "je", c'est-à-dire 
l'assurance d'accéder à "l'éternelle vie" prônée, on s'en souvient dès la fin 
su sonnet I. Voici d'ailleurs le dernier tercet de ce douzième sonnet: 

"Mais ton Temple pourtant, ta main, ta voix sera 
La nef, l'appuy, l'oreille où ce charme perdra, 
Où mourra cest effort, où se rompra ceste Onde." 

Deux caractères du poète réformé font ainsi surface: le premier, c'est que 
l'entière corruption du "mortel" fait reposer son salut sur le libre-arbitre divin. 
Le salut vient de Dieu, les oeuvres ne sont donc rien.^^ Convaincu d'avoir été 
élu - par la grâce de la conscience - , et c'est là le deuxième caractère, le 
poète est si assuré de son salut que sa prière du sonnet XII est moins une 
demande qu'une célébration hyperbolique de la toute-puissance de Dieu, 
même si ce triomphe total est annoncé au futur. En somme, le mérite du 
poète-célébrant, offrant une couronne à la victoire de la vie éternelle sur la 
vie terrestre, de l'éternité sur le temporel, n'aurait "nulle" "grâce" devant 
Dieu, si lui-même n'avait été, de toute éternité, l'objet de sa providentielle 
élection. 



286 / Renaissance and Reformation 

La tendance moderne à restreindre l'efficacité des thèses de Jakobson à 
l'analyse de la poésie romantique trahit surtout des insuffisances dans notre 
connaissance de la poésie française, la critique moderne ne se fondant que sur 
un classicisme plutôt vague. La poétique de Jakobson, pour être contestée 
dans sa généralité, mériterait qu'on l'expérimente dans des analyses de 
poèmes datant de diverses périodes. 

L'intérêt de la critique universitaire pour la critique moderne ne change 
rien au problème du démon de l'analogie qui a hanté, hante et hantera toujours 
la production du poème. De là à hanter la critique elle-même, y aurait-il une 
situation plus logique? 

Université de Yaounde 

Notes 

1. Henri Lafay a déjà souligné "l'importance capitale" des recueils collectifs dans la 
diffusion des poésies nouvelles. On ne saurait oublier que c'est le mode de publication 
de la production spondienne dans sa presque totalité. - cf. La Poésie française du 
premier XVIF siècle (1598-1630), Pâùs, Nizet, 1975, p. 19 et 551 suiv. 

2. Louis Aragon, "Du sonnet" dans Les Lettres françaises 506, 1954, 1-8. 

3. Robert Melançon, "Le pétrarquisme pieux: la conversion de la poésie amoureuse chez 
Jean de la Ceppède" dans Renaissance et Réforme, XXIII (1987), p. 136. 

4. Ibid. 

5. Dans le sillage des Amours de Ronsard et de ceux de Philippe Desportes, signalons 
L'hécatombe à Diane d'A. d'Aubigné. 

6. Par exemple: Le Mespris de la vie et consolation contre la mort de Jean-Baptiste 
Chassignet, Besançon, Nicolas de Moingesse, 1594 et rééd. Genève, Droz, Paris, 
Minard, 1967; Les Théorèmes... sur le sacré Mistère de N'^^ Rédemption de la Ceppède, 
Toulouse, Vve Jacques Colomiez, 1613, rééd. avec une présentation de J. Rousset, 
Genève, Droz. 1966; et les Sonnets spirituels d'Anne de Marquets, Paris, Claude Morel. 
1605. 

7. Henri Meschonnic, Pour La Poétique, I, Paris, Gallimard, 1970, p. 160. 

8. Dans le supplément au glossaire, le "paragrammatisme" se définit comme 
"l'organisation prosodique d'un texte, par diffraction complète ou partielle des 
éléments sonores ou graphiques d'un "mot-thème" dans son contexte, "hors de l'ordre 
dans le temps qu'ont les éléments (Saussure)." Ibid., p. Ill . 

9. Par "forme-sens", il faut entendre, la "forme du langage dans un texte (des petites aux 
grandes unités) spécifique de ce texte en tant que produit de l'homogénéité du dire et 
du vivre. Un texte, dans son signifiant, est l'inconscient du langage. Il fait ceci, qu'il 
dure, et on ne peut pas en épuiser le pourquoi. Sa connaissance est infinie". Ibid., p. 
176. 

10. L'expression est de Claude-Gabriel Dubois. Cf. Le Baroque, Paris, Larousse, 1973, p. 
84. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 287 

11. Malgré ses précautions, J. Rousset croit déceler, "d'apparentes ruptures": "Pourquoi 
faut-il aller chercher au n. VII la suite naturelle du V? Et que vient faire à la place qui 
nous est proposée, le sonnet VI? Sa belle conclusion ... semble sans relation directe 
avec ce qui précède, elle intervient trop tôt dans l'évolution du recueil, alors qu'elle en 
ferait si bien le dénouement". Cf. L 'intérieur et l'extérieur, Paris, José Corti, 1968, p. 
24. 

12. Par exemple "Chandelier à sept branches; sept esprits reposant sur la tige de Jessé: sept 
cieux où habitent les ordres angéliques ... Lors de la prise de Jéricho, sept prêtres 
portant sept trompettes doivent, le septième jour, faire sept fois le tour de la ville ... ". 
(Cf. Dictionnaire des symboles). 

13. La réversion est une figure rhétorique qui consiste en un retour d'un mot qui change 
partiellement de sens. On s'en doute, sa fonction ici n'est pas qu'ornementale. 

14. Les raisons sont variées et nous ne sommes pas seul à penser que ce sonnet XII est bien 
à sa place. Après A. Boase, C. Dubois affirme que ce sonnet offre "La parfaite 
conclusion qui résume les onze sonnets qui précèdent: nous trouvons là en effet, à 
travers les volutes des tentations mondaines, charnelles et diaboliques ... l'élan d'un 
esprit martyrisé qui réserve toute son énergie pour l'imploration de la paix future". Le 
Baroque, Op. cit., p. 86. Ajoutons que ce sonnet est le dernier maillon d'une chaîne, 
ou mieux la dernière fleur d'une couronne qui rappelle celle de la femme de 
l'Apocalypse: "un grand signe apparut dans le ciel, une femme enveloppée du soleil 
comme d'un vêtement, qui avait la lune sous les pieds et une couronne de douze étoiles 
sur la tête. Elle était sur le point de mettre au monde un enfant, et les peines de 
l'accouchement la faisaient crier de douleur." (Apocalypses, 12, 1-2). En tant que 
couronne de "l'éternelle vie", ces douze sonnets disent les peines de l'engendrement 
et préfigurent la victoire de "l'invincible main" de Dieu. 

15. "On entend par vers rapportés des vers composés de parties semblables, dans chacune 
desquelles entrent des mots (trois ou quatre selon les cas) qui se rapportent non pas aux 
mots voisins, mais à ceux qui sont semblablement placés dans les autres parties de la 
phrase: paria paribus reddita". Cf. Henri Chamard, Histoire de la Pléiade, Paris, 
1939-1941, t. IV, p. 101-192. En réalité, cette forme n'est pas nouvelle, puisque E. R. 
Curtius en a relevé des traces dans des poèmes grecs et latins, ainsi qu'au cours du 
Moyen Age. Cf. La littérature et le Moyen âge latin, trad. J. Brejoux, Paris, 1956, p. 
347 sq. 

1 6. En effet Michael Riffaterre considère que "le texte comme lieu de signifiance est généré 
par la conversion et l'expansion ... (qui) permettent toutes deux d'établir une 
équivalence entre un mot et un groupe de mots, c'est-à-dire entre un lexeme (toujours 
susceptible d'être réécrit comme phrase matricielle) et un syntagme. Ainsi se crée 
l'énoncé verbal fini, sémantiquement et formellement unifié qui constitue le poème". 
Et dans le cas d'espèce, un ensemble de poèmes. Cf Sémiotique de la poésie, Paris, 
Seuil, 1983, p. 67. 

17. Comme le dit Calvin: "Les oeuvres n'auront nulle grâce devant Dieu, que celuy qui les 
a faites ne soit déjà auparavant approuvé de luy". Ci Commentaires sur les Cinq livres 
de Moyse, Genève, 1564, p. 41. 



English Puritanism and Festive Custom 

ALEXANDRA F.JOHNSTON 

vJn February 1, 1621, John Marten, Vicar of the parish church of St John 
the Baptist, Windsor sent a petition to an official of the ecclesiastical courts, 
one Master Jones, complaining against the activities of his churchwarden: 

Mfl5ter lones, though as yett I am vnknowne to you yett I am bold to 
entreate you to be my proctOMr & to put into the Court, by way of Articles 
against Thomas Hall Churchwarden of New-Windsor Inkeeper. these 
particulars following. 

1. That the said Thomas Hall is a common swearer blasphemer & curser, 
not onelie in priuate houses but also in the open streetes to the great offence 
& grief e of many. 

2. That the said Thomas Hall vsuallie receiueth the holie sacrament of the 
Lords supper but once in the yeare. 

3. That the said Thomas hath maintayned playing at pigeon holes, many 
Saterdayes together both in the last yeare 1619, & also in this year 1620 
in the tyme of Euening prayer neare to the Church yard wall.' 

4. That the said Thomas vpon Easter munday last in the tyme of Euening 
prayer was present at a play with many others, at the signe of the Georg 
in Windsor, so that through his example few persons were present at 
diuine seruice 

5. That the said Thomas, vpon the feast of the Ascension of Christ, last 
past, did procure bricklayers to mend vp the Churchyard wall & suffered 
Carpenters to worke that whole day in the markett place; oftens accom- 
panying them ./. 

6. That the said Thomas, at the celebration of the holie sacrament of the 
Lords supper did with a Iqwde voyce, expostulate, chyde & wrangle with 
one Robert Michener a poore labouring man & with Clement his wife: 
adding moreouer these words, except you pay your 2 d come no more 
here, & also adding this threatning I will talke with you in another place: 
as that not onelie the said Robert & Clement his wife, were much greiued, 
being readie to receiue the holie sacrament, but also the minister & diuerse 
Communicants, were greatlie disturbed 

7. That the said Thomas Hall vpon the feast day of the Ascension last past 
when one of the morrice dauncers had leaped & daunced in the face of 
the minister standing in his owne doore, did before a great number of 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVII, 4 (1991) 289 



290 / Renaissance and Reformation 

people revile & abuse the minister with these reprothfull speaches sc. that 
the morrice dauncers should dance before his doore & before his face in 
spite of him & in spite of his teeth & that they would ridd the towne of 
him; asking him disdainfullie what he was, w/th many other threatning 
speeches. 

I pray you Master lones after that you haue thus Articled against the said 
Thomas Hall, take out a Commission to examine witnesses (which I haue 
many) to proove these Articles: & vpon yowr letter sent to me by 
Ockinghaw or the Carrier; I will send what fees you write to be due; as 
also the names of my Commisioners. when I know how many Commis- 
sioners are required; then also I will write to you about interragatories; 
& other particulars vpon yowr direction; thus defying your best further- 
ance in an honest cause; with hartie commendations to you & my prayers 
to god for you. I end & rest 
Feb 1, 1620. from New Windsor 

Your vnknowne yet loving 
Client 

lohn Marten vicar 
of New Windsor^ 

This petition documents the profound split in English society that preceded 
the Civil War. Marten represents the new Puritan spirit craving godliness and 
order and invoking the ancient courts of the church to prosecute the social 
behaviour of those who, like "the said Thomas" still lived in the festive world 
of licensed liberty into which he had been born. Thomas Hall takes his job as 
churchwarden seriously. He raises money in the tried and true manner with 
plays and morris dancing; he spends the money to repair the church property 
and even harangues the parishioners to pay the new-fangled twopence fee for 
pews. Yet to the new vicar his behaviour is blasphemous and his associates 
reprobates to be censured by the ecclesiastical courts and, possibly, excom- 
municated. 

The work of Mikhail Bakhtin as it has been used by such historians as 
Natalie Zemon Davis has helped us to understand the complex symbolism 
represented by festive custom in the early modern period. Yet Bakhtin 's 
argument that carnival was the first step towards freeing European society 
from the "official culture of the Middle Ages" is hard to apply to England.^ 
What seems to be emerging, particularly from the work of the Records of 
Early English Drama project, is that until the last quarter of the sixteenth 
century English festive customs were integral to the official culture. There- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 291 

after, what Leah Marcus calls "old holiday pastimes"^ became tightly 
entwined with the struggle for the conscience of the kingdom represented by 
Puritans like John Marten. The coincidence of the rise of Puritanism in 
England and the breakup of the old social order has produced a phenomenon 
unlike what happened on the continent. In England, almost all elements of 
festive custom became pawns in a revolution that changed the character of 
English society. 

The instrument that was used to prosecute those who carried out the old 
customs first appeared in Visitation Articles in the diocese of York in 1575, 

Item that the minister and churchewardens shall not suffer anye lordes 
of misrule or sommerr Lordes or ladyes or anye disguised persons or 
others in christmasse or at may gammes or anye minstrels morrie 
dauncers or others at Ryshebearinges or at any other tymes to come 
vnreverentle into anye churche or chappell or churchyeard and there 
daunce or playe anye vnseemelye partes with scoffes ieastes wanton 
gestures or rybaulde talke namely in the tyme of divine service or of anye 
sermon.^ 

Such articles were repeated again and again by other bishops and the questions 
became a standard part of diocesan visits. The struggle was carried out at the 
local, diocesan or parish level with seemingly little reference to edicts issued 
at the centre either by the church or by the king himself such as James' famous 
Declaration Concerning Lawful Sports. The Bishop of Gloucester, for exam- 
ple, in 1622 four years after the promulgation of the James' Declaration 
which allowed many of the pastimes, included these questions in his Visita- 
tion Articles to be asked of every churchwarden in his diocese: 



28 Whether haue any Lords of misrule, dauncers, players, or any other 
disguised person, beene suffered to dance or play vpon the Sabbath day, 
or to enter into the church or chapell, with games or daunces, to the 
prophaning of Gods house, or into the church-yarde in time of Diuine 
seruice: and if they haue, what bee the names of such disordered persons. 

29 Whether there be any stage -playes, beare-baitings, bul-baitings, or 
other such vnlawfull and prophane exercises vsed vpon the Sabbath day: 
and who gaue them Licence. Whether there be any common drinkings 
in the Church, and who were present at such drinkings: or sports, or any 
that do sit in the Tauerne, or Alehouse, or streetes vpon Sundayes or 
Holidayes, in time of morning or euening prayer. 



292 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Such interrogations, depending on the spirit in which they were carried out, 
could have constituted a kind of guerilla war against pastimes that had been 
approved by the king. The most recent edition of the Records of Early English 
Drama series, Lancashire, records various examples of such prosecutions,^ 

Yet until about 1575, festive customs had been important elements in the 
rhythm of the seasons and there is considerable evidence that what Marcus 
calls "lawless topsy-turvydom"^ had reinforced rather than challenged the 
established order by being licensed within it. The customs of both the church 
and secular society seem to have been carefully controlled to uphold the order 
that was being inverted. 

The most ancient custom that expresses the idea of "licensed liberty" is the 
practice of electing a choir boy as a mock bishop for part of the Christmas 
festivités.^ The practice was widespread in England from the earliest reference 
in York in 1221 to the Reformation. The evidence is fragmentary but it appears 
that in some places the Boy Bishop reigned from St Nicholas Day (6 December) 
to the Feast of the Holy Innocents (27 December). Evidence from elsewhere 
suggests that the boy (who according to reforming statutes in York in 1367 and 
1390 was to be good looking and have a good voice) was chosen on the Feast of 
St Nicholas but reigned only on the feast of the Holy Innocents. Evidence for the 
costuming of the boy as a bishop in full regalia survives from cathedrals, monastic 
establishments, and schools and colleges. From their foundation in the mid-fif- 
teenth century, for example, Westminster School and Eton and their correspond- 
ing colleges (New College, Oxford and King's, Cambridge) had Boy Bishop 
ceremonies. Although the ceremony did provide opportunities for abuse, its 
intent was a serious one emphasizing the place of children in the conduct of the 
service particularly on the day of the feast dedicated to the slaughter of the 
children. The Boy Bishop and his attendants were expected to conduct them- 
selves with suitable decorum through all the parts of the liturgy that did not 
demand the services of an ordained priest and the boy was expected to preach a 
sermon to the community which, of course, included the real bishop. 

A secular Christmas figure probably related to the religious customs, the 
Lord of Misrule, appears in the records of the household of Princess Mary in 
1521. The young people who had the care of the young princess appointed 
one John Thurgood to be the Lord of Misrule for the household over the 
Christmas season. Among other games and disguising, Thurgood arranged 
for a man from Windsor to kill a calf "before my lady's grace behind a 
cloth". ^^ Two years later across the river in Eton, the school appointed one 
of the servants of the royal household to act as their Lord of Misrule.^ ^ At 
Christmas, 1525 Princess Mary was in Tewkesbury and her new entourage 



Renaissance et Réforme / 293 

wrote to Wolsey to enquire "whither we shall appoynte any lord of mysrule 
for the said honorable householde/ provide for enterludes Disgysynges or 
pleyes in the said fest/ or for banket on twelf nyght/". ^^ These Christmas Lords 
of Misrule seem to have been Masters of Ceremonies or Masters of Revels 
employed by noble households. The Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral 
gave the "Abbott of Misrule" of a local magnate called Courtenay a hogshead 
of wine in 1533^^ and the Gloucester town council twice recorded hiring the 
"abbott" or Lord of Misrule from the households of Sir Anthony Kingston 
and Sir Nicholas Arnold in 1550 and 1563.^"^ These men were, presumably, 
hired to arrange a Christmas party for their clients. The custom survived in 
the north well into the seventeenth century. The Carlisle town council pro- 
vided a costume for their Abbot of Misrule in 1610 and ten years later it seems 
that Willy, the town fool, acted as their abbott. ^^ 

Equally pervasive were the summer customs that are only now coming to be 
fully understood as the editors for the Records of Early English Drama project 
comb through the church records of the sixteenth century. It was the responsi- 
bility of the parishioners, led by the churchwardens, to maintain the fabric of the 
church west of the chancel steps including the roof, the tower, the porch and the 
churchyard. In most country parishes the necessary money was raised (as 
Thomas Hall of Windsor had apparently been doing) by a series of parish events 
including "Hocking" (which survives today in the Sadie Hawkins customs), 
performing religious plays as well as the ever present folk play of Robin Hood, 
morris dancing, and other communal activities. These were usually focussed on 
the midsummer or Whitsun festival when parishes all over the country held 
Church Ales often termed King Ales or King Plays where home-brew was sold, 
often a fair was held, minstrells played and May-poles were erected. A profit was 
made from almost every one of these activities. Some small Berkshire parishes 
frugally chopped up the may-pole and sold the wood for fire-wood^^. The 
festivities were often presided over by a Lord and Lady of the festival sometimes 
called summer lords and ladies. Sometimes these figures took on the names of 
Robin Hood and Maid Marion. The social inversion of these occasions was 
conscious. Evidence survives from the parish of Wing in Buckinghamshire that 
servants of local gentlemen, especially those of Sir William Dormer, were chosen 
to preside over the festival. ^^ 

Shakespeare, in 1611, exploits this custom in the fourth act of Winter's 
Tale when he portrays Perdita, the lost princess of Sicilia, playing the queen 
of the country festival in Bohemia. Florizel, her princely suitor, leads her to 
the role while her adopted father, the Shepherd, urges her to take her 
responsibilities at the festivities seriously, 



294 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Fie, daughter! when my old wife liv'd, upon 
This day she was both pantler, butler, cook. 
Both Dame and servant; welcom'd all, serv'd all; 
Would sing her song and dance her turn; now here 
At the upper end o' th' table, now i' th' middle; 
On his shoulder, and his; her face o' fire 
With labour, and one thing she took to quench it 
She would to each one sip. You are retired. 
As if you were a feasted one, and not 
The hostess of the meeting: pray you, bid 
These unknown friends to 's welcome; for it is 
A way to make us better friends, more known. 
Come quench your blushes, and present yourself 
That which you are. Mistress o' th' Feast. Come on, 
And bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing. 
As your good flock shall prosper. (IV, iv, 55-69) 

At the eiîd of his career, Shakespeare turns to the fast dying customs of his 
childhood to portray an idyllic pastoral world far from the suspicions of the 
court. But the idyll was soon to be disallowed. Only a few years after 
Shakespeare's play William Rice and Dionisia Watkins, two parishioners of 
Welsh Newton in Herefordshire, were excommunicated for taking the parts 
of the Lord and Lady of Misrule at the summer festival. ^^ 

The Puritan spirit which would so briefly dominate English society before 
it was transported to New England, felt compelled to repress any challenge 
to its sense of fit and godly behaviour. Through the very immediate instrument 
of the ecclesiastical courts, the personal lives of countless individuals were 
disrupted often through the testimony of their neighbours. Reading the court 
records of this period, one is struck, on the one hand, by the sincerity of many 
of the Puritans and, on the other, by the opportunism of many others who used 
the ideological zeal of the godly to settle old scores with neighbours and 
family members alike. Evangelical fervour and meanspirited pettiness jostle 
one another in page after page of evidence. 

Another case that demonstrates the way in which the inhabitants of small 
communities were pitted against one another is documented in the court 
records of the Bishop of Salisbury. In March 1623, Thomas Kent and his 
daughter Susan were cited before the bishop's court for their behaviour in the 
parish of Wyly, Wiltshire, on the western edge of Salisbury Plain.^^ It is clear 
from the depositions that the incumbent of the parish church, John Lee, had 
changed the life of the parish with his Puritan principals. Thomas Kent, styled 
"gentleman", despite the fact that he had been an infrequent church-goer, 



Renaissance et Réforme / 295 

became churchwarden and proceeded to harrass the parson. For example, Lee 
complained that Kent refused to cut the bread for communion and provided 
mere sack from the local pub rather than the more refined muscadine although 
his fellow churchwarden would have been prepared to travel to Salisbury or 
Warminster to procure the finer wine. Kent's response at being reproached 
by Lee was to say that "the minister should Doe yt himself if he would" 
(f 37v). Kent was also loud in his criticism of the length of Lee's sermons 
"saying that yt were more fit for mens servantes to be at home w/th their cattle 
then here" (f 37). But most telling is the testimony of a neighbour, Elizabeth 
Wadling, against Susan Kent, 

. . . that vppon a sonday in thaftemoone w/thin this xij monethes Last/ Mr 
Lee the parson of wyly being in the church amongst his parishoners 
perswaded them to come more orderly to church to heare the cathechism 
aswell thold as the young, whervppon she the said \Susan being present said 
in this Deponenles hearing that she would not sitt here soe long for said she 
when cure he (meaning mr Lee) takes his greene book in hand wee shall 
haue such a Deale of bibble babble that I am weary to heere yt & I can then 
sitt downe in my seat and take a good napp and this deponent being by her 
& some others bad her to be quyet and not to talke soe irreuerently of their 
parson in the churche & that they were fearfull he did heere her to which 
she answered I care not & if he doe for he speaks against vs for our daunsing 
but now my father will mayntayne yt for the king doth allow of yt farder 
saying vizt wee had a good parson heere before but now we haue a puritan 
but said she a plague or a pox in him that euer he did come hither & I would 
wee had Kept our old parson for he did neuer dislike w/th them at any tyme 
& she being farder reproved said in this manner vizt theis proud puritans are 
vp at the top now but I hope they will haue a tyme to come as fast downe as 
euer they come vp . . . ff 41v-42 

Clearly the Kents and their friends were hankering for the older world where 
dancing and music had been part of the life of the village. However, it is clear, 
in this situation, from the number of witnesses against them, that Lee had 
many strong supporters in the parish. Unlike the case in Windsor, here in 
Wyly the upholders of the old ways were on the defensive not the Puritan 
parson. 

The custom of Christmas lords became a weapon in the hands of northern 
Puritans against recusants. About 1616, a charge of recusancy was brought 
against Lord William Howard of Thornthwaite and part of the charge was that 

... ye tenantes and servantes of ye lord William assisted with others of 
ye parish did erect a christemas lord, and resorting to ye church, did most 



296 / Renaissance and Reformation 

grossely disturb ye minister in tyme of prayer . . . these christemas misrule 
men, drunke to ye minister readinge an homilie in ye pulpitt, others stept 
into ye pulpitt, and exhorted ye parishioners to an offeringe for maynten- 
ance of there sport, ye minister contynuinge still his service, others of ye 
lord William owne servantes came in savage manner disguised into ye 
churche, in ye tyme of prayer, others with shootinge of gunnes, others 
with flagges and banners borne entered ye churche, others sported them 
selves in the churche with pies, and puddinges, vsinge them as bowles 
in ye churche allies ... all there in the tyme of diuine service^^ 

Customs that stemmed from the licensed liberty of Catholic ceremony 
become part of the arsenal to be used against the adherents of the old religion 
in a district famous for its religious stubborness. 

Licensed liberty as it was known in England before 1575 could only 
flourish in stable society where the accustomed and often repressive norms 
were accepted. When a whole society had consented to a normative pattern, 
that pattern could be inverted and burlesqued at festival time without the 
system itself being threatened. But by the early seventeenth century there was 
no societal norm in England. The insecurity of the dominant Puritan faction 
can be seen again and again in their fear of the expressions of the ancient 
festive customs. For them licensed liberty was mere license, and as this extract 
from a sermon preached before Sir Robert Foster, Justice of Assize in Exeter 
in 1642 shows, a metaphor for inadequate rule, 

... A pittifuU thing it was, that those which should curbe and restraine 
others, should be sonnes of Belial, lawlesse, yoaklesse themselves, That 
those which should set bounds to others, will keep no limits themselves, 
that those which should have beene the Governours of the people, should 
be little better that Christmasse-Lords, Lx)rds of mis-rule, and disorder; 

__ 21 

The narrowness of the Puritan vision was proved by their inability to 
survive in power more than a few generations. But those few generations 
marked a profound change in English society. Many of the customs and 
ceremonies of the medieval past survived in the countryside beyond the reign 
of Elizabeth. Very few of them were left by the time of the Restoration. When 
some were revived in the eighteenth century, they were a product of antiquar- 
ian zeal, a conscious return to a lost past. The society that had the confidence 
to license misrule did not survive the actions of the godly. 

University of Toronto 



Renaissance et Réforme / 297 

Notes 

1. According to Hazlitt (Faiths and Folklore of the British Isles, revised edition 1905 vol. 
II, pp. 490-1) pigeon-holes "probably resembled a variety of bagatelle called bridge". 
The game is frequently associated with bowling and may have demanded skill similar 
to that needed for darts. In the seventeenth century it was associated with Witsun. 

2. Oxfordshire County R.O. MS Oxon. Archd. Papers, Oxon. c.l74, ff 199-199v. 

3. Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and his World, trans. Helene Iswolsky, Indiana University 
Press, 1984, p. 274. 

4. Leah S. Marcus, The Politics of Mirth, Chicago, 1986, uses the phrase as part of her 
subtitle "Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Marvell and the Defense of old holiday pastimes." 

5. Alexandra F. Johnston and Margaret Rogerson, eds.. Records of Early English Drama: 
York, Toronto, 1979, p.358. 

6. Audrey Douglas and Peter Greenfield, eds. Records of Early English Drama: Cumber- 
land, Westmorland and Gloucestershire. Toronto, 1986. p. 346. 

7. David George, éd., Records of Early English Drama: Lancashire Toronto, 1992. The 
collection of the Somerset records being edited by James Stokes for the REED series 
is even richer in the number and complexity of the prosecutions. 

8. Marcus, p. 7. 

9. Evidence for Boy Bishop activities appear in many collections in the Records of Early 
English Drama series (University of Toronto Press 1979-), particularly those related 
to monastic establishments. See also E.K.Chambers, The Medieval Stage, London 
1903, vol. I, pp.336-71 and W.C. Meller, The Boy Bishop, London, 1923, pp. 3-18. 

10. Public Record office E 36/216 endpapers. 

11. Eton College Records, Act Book I, 1523-4. 

12. Audrey Douglas and Peter Greenfield, eds.. Records of Early English Drama: Cum- 
berland, Westmorland and Gloucestershire, Toronto, 1986, pp.296 and 299. 

13. John Wasson, éd.. Records of Early English Drama: Devon, Toronto, 1987, p. 133. 

14. REED:CWG, pp. 296 and 299. 

15. ibid. pp. 71 and 24. 

16. See, for example, the churchwardens' accounts of St Denys, Stanford-in-the-vale 
(Berkshire Record Office D/P 118 5/1) for the years 1611-2, 1613-4 and 1619-20. 

17. Buckinghamshire Record Office, PR 234/5/1, ff. 174v and 67v-81v. 

18. David Klausner, éd.. Records of Early English Drama: Herefordshire and Worcester- 
shire, Toronto, 1990, pp. 173-4. 

19. Wiltshire Record Office, Bishop's Act Books, Office, Dl/39/2/11, ff 35v-43. 

20. REED.CWG, p. 2\8. 

21. REED:Devon, p. 205. 



I 



Hamlet: The Dialectic Between 
Eye and Ear 



MARY ANDERSON 



Wf hat do we know about Hamlet? He is young, educated, sensitive, and 
in a dilemma. We know that the practical issue of truth and judgement 
preoccupies him. He is a university student at Wittenberg and has a "studious 
temperament", illustrated by the fact that he is eager to get back to school. ^'^ 
He debates and deliberates at great length and gives the appearance of one 
who is oriented toward word rather than action. We can assume that Shakes- 
peare's characterization of Hamlet as an intellectual carries some philosoph- 
ical and thematic import, and that the play is, at least in part, about the 
difficulty of achieving certainty, truth, and meaning, as a basis for action in 
the world. There is a "general air of uncertainty" in the play and, as A. 
Brennan points out, "Truth is so elusive that you can only sneak up on it to 
catch it by surprise".-^''* 

In Hamlet, both the play and the character, Shakespeare provides a series 
of images which examine the various ways of gaining knowledge and cer- 
tainty as a basis for judgement and action.^ He sets up a comparison between 
the eye and the ear as the two faculties by which sense data are transmitted 
to the reason. The frequent and deliberate repetition of these images in the 
play invites analysis and provides a comprehensive structure by which the 
play can be better understood. 

In Hamlet the importance of reason is emphasized, and this faculty is 
elevated to "noble", "sovereign", "ingenious", and "godlike" status (III. i. 157; 
V.i.248; IV.iv,39). The function of language is implicit in the relationship 
between the eye and the ear, and the power of the word for good or evil is a 
central theme in the play. 

As well as the eye and ear, the images dealing with one or more of the five 
senses are especially important to characterization. The five senses represent 
an image of completeness, and when one or more is absent, this denotes a 
deficiency. The repetition of certain words or phrases according to the number 



Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XXVII, 4 (1991) 299 



300 / Renaissance and Reformation 

five and its multiples, suggests purpose and design in which theme and 
structure coalesce into meaning. 

The Revenge Code is also a major theme in the play and we observe Hamlet 
being torn between his desire to fulfill his father's wish for revenge, and his 
knowledge that the act is unlawful and immoral. When we consider the grave 
moral and philosophical paradoxes that the ghost of Hamlet's father presents, 
is it any wonder that Hamlet is uncertain how to act?^ Brecht sees Hamlet as 
"historically between two worlds, unhappy with the dark revenge duty, yet 
unable to find another way to act. ... In the bloody business of feudal revenge 
reason merely impedes him".^ 

Much has been written about the Revenge Code in Hamlet. Fredson Bowers 
outlines the historical development of the prohibition against revenge in 
Elizabethan England, and its severe and legal punishment as murder.^ Also, 
as Harbage notes, had Hamlet taken revenge, he would have become a 
villain.*^ In fact Shakespeare's most violent play, Titus Andronicus (1594) 
written about six years before Hamlet, dramatizes the chain of bloodshed that 
can be set in motion by the act of revenge. Hamlet's struggle with the revenge 
duty is contrasted in the play with the character of Fortinbras who also seeks 
to revenge his father's death; with Laertes, who rejects "words" and would 
cut Hamlet's "throat i' th' Church"; and with Claudius, who tells Laertes, 
"Revenge should have no bounds" (IV.vii. 126-28). 

The role of the theatre as a medium which incorporates both the eye and 
the ear in the transmission of ideas is also a central theme in the play. 
Therefore, Shakespeare in the play Hamlet, and like his character Hamlet, 
devises a play which will project his ideas and pique the political and social 
conscience. In this play Shakespeare demonstrates his views about the moral 
function of the theatre in its capacity to stimulate a more balanced understand- 
ing in its audience. Wilson suggests that in Hamlet a kind of dramatic dialectic 
was being imposed upon the Elizabethan audience. He states: 

And the audience, of whatever school, would be swayed hither and 
thither in their opinion, as Hamlet himself was swayed. '° 

Thus the strongly held views and biases would become moderated and 
tempered by an opposing viewpoint. 

Hamlet as a scholar, places greater emphasis on the intellect and on reason 
and the word. He says that he is "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought", 
and that he "must like a whore, unpack [his] heart with words" (III.i.84; 
II.ii.585). Hamlet obviously struggles with the onerous burden of freedom of 



Renaissance et Réforme / 301 

choice, while at the same time feeling the equal burden of fate - the inherent 
"mole" or "defect", by which each individual in the play is undone (I.iv.24- 
38). He is caught between the past and the future - the biblical "sins of the 
fathers", and the freedom of self-determination. 

The importance of the images of the eye and ear is not restricted to Hamlet 
alone and reference to them can be found in some of the other plays. Notably, 
in Henry V the King judges as admirable the man who is "Not working with 
the eye without the ear" (H5.II.ii.l35,6). Also Allan Bloom points out that in 
Julius Caesar. 

Caesar had bad hearing but good eyes; Cassius, bad eyesight and good 
hearing. Caesar trusted more to what he saw than what he heard; Cassius 
trusted the report he heard about what another saw.'' 

In each case the suggestion is made that a reliance on one faculty without 
the balance of the complementary other will result in unwholesome judge- 
ment and action. 

In the first act oi Hamlet alone there are at least one hundred references to 
the eye and the ear and their functions of seeing and hearing. In the second 
act there are eighty-four, and the repetitions continue throughout the play. In 
fact, the careful staging and juxtaposition of the Dumb-Show and Mouse-Trap 
sequence provides a dramatization of the functions of the eye and ear and of 
the relative effectiveness of the two forms of drama. 

The following images and scenes are selected in order to demonstrate a 
deliberate juxtaposition of the eye and ear in a significant way: the images of 
malignancy associated with the ear; the actual murder of the King; the 
appearance of the ghost; the Dumb-Show and Mouse-trap sequence; the 
prayer scene; the killing of Polonius; Hamlet and the Queen; and Ophelia. 

In particular there are many references to danger and violence connected 
with the ear. A few are quoted here and others will follow as they become 
relevant: 

Nor shall you do my ear that violence (I.ii.l71). 

Too credent ear (I.iii.31). 

The whole ear of Denmark is rankly abused (I.v.36-7). 

Takes prisoner Pyrrhus ear (II.ii.477). 

Cleave the general ear with horrid speech (II.ii.562). 

To spleet the ears (Ill.ii.lO). 

Mildewed ear (III.iv.64). 

Knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear (IV.ii.23). 

To infect his ear with pestilent speeches (IV.v.90) 



302 / Renaissance and Reformation 

I have words to speak in thy ear will make thee dumb 
(IV.vi.24,5). 

It is interesting that Shakespeare uses a similar image in Macbeth when Lady 
Macbeth resolves to convince her husband that he should have the crown. She 
says, "Hie thee hither,/ That I may pour my spirits in thine ear" (Mac.I.v.25,6). 

The play Hamlet, suggests that information gained through the ear alone 
can be malignant, and that information gained through the eye alone can be 
incomplete or ineffectual. Shakespeare shows that a dialectical relationship 
exists between the functions of the eye and the ear and that an equilibrium 
between the two must be sought within the reason before the will is called 
into action. This accounts for Hamlet's repeated deliberations and inability 
to act. He is not certain that his sources, or his senses, are reliable, and this is 
compounded by the fact that his major source is intangible. 

It is significant that the play begins on a speculation about hearing and 
seeing. The appearance of the ghost has already occurred twice before the 
play opens. Line 1 states "Who's there?", and line 21 asks, "What, has this 
thing appear'd again to-night?". The ghost exercises a strong influence on the 
"sentinels" of the kingdom who have their eyes and ears open and alert, but 
it is only Hamlet, the ghost's natural issue, who can communicate with it. The 
ghost repeatedly engages his ear, "lend thy serious hearing", and "List, list, 
O, list". Hamlet replies "Speak, I am bound to hear" (Lv.5-7). 

In the ghost's speech King Hamlet describes the circumstances of his 
murder. The words of the ghost are particularly significant since they also are 
concerned with hearing: 

I find thee apt, 



Now, Hamlet, hear: 

... the whole ear of Denmark 

Is by a forged process of my death 

Rankly abused;. ... (I.v. 32-38) (my emphasis). 

It is important that the ghost makes this statement even before he mentions 
the poisoning in his own ear, and thereby sets up an analogy between the 
poisoning of the "whole ear" of the nation, and the poisoning of the ear of the 
King. The words "forged process" refer to the misuse of language and 
authority, by which the nation has been duped. In order to emphasize the 
function of hearing even more cogently, the ghost engages Hamlet's ear, by 
saying "Now, Hamlet, hear" (I.v. 34). Ironically, it is by the same process that 



Renaissance et Réforme / 303 

caused his own death, that the ghost appeals to Hamlet - directly through the 
ears. Hamlet must decide if this communication is also poisonous. 

Hamlet, does also see the ghost, however intangibly, and it has been seen 
by others as well, but whether Hamlet can rely on his senses as a basis for 
judgement and action is his dilemma. He is confused because he has also seen 
his father in his "mind's eye" and in his "prophetic soul" (I.ii.l86; I.v.40). 
Hamlet's "remembering" of his father and his subsequent thought patterns 
and inward struggle show that a dialectic is taking place (I.v.92-112). 

One of the central images in the play is connected with the ear. It is the 
murder of the king and is particularly bizarre. He is poisoned by his brother 
who pours a "leprous distillment" into the "porches of [his] ears", while he is 
asleep (I.v.63) (my emphasis). We note the plural "ears". How does a 
murderer penetrate both ears without waking his victim? ^^ Does this then refer 
to the faculty of hearing, which is a natural and simultaneous penetration of 
both ears into the reason? This suggests that the poison is connected with 
language and that a knowledge gained through hearing alone without benefit 
of the tempering and moderating value of its complementary faculty, eyesight, 
can be corrupting to both mind and body. 

In the ghost's speech to Hamlet, he mentions all five of the senses, but the 
fact that his eyes were closed made the murder possible. This implies a 
potential for sensual wholeness, but a rational deficiency is also suggested by 
the image of complacency in the "custom" of napping in the unprotected 
"orchard" (I.v.58-90). 

After speaking with the ghost, Hamlet appears to be resolved to act, 
however, we find that he continues to be torn between his father's 
impassioned plea for justice based on the Revenge Code, and the Christian 
proscription against it. Hamlet's dilemma is complicated by the fact that the 
ghost himself is an image of contradiction. On the one hand, the ghost is 
already condemned to burn in hell for his past sins, and on the other, he would 
now add another sin, revenge, to the list. It is left to the young scholar Hamlet 
to attempt to find a way to justice and certainty that would accommodate both 
the past tradition and the present philosophy. This is a task worthy of a 
Socrates. 

Immediately after the ghost's speech, Hamlet repeats the word "all" five 
times, and these are incorporated with ten references to actual written lan- 
guage. This demonstrates that a total change, a "resolution", has taken place 
in his "distracted globe", which is his reason. He says: 



304 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Yea, from the table of memory 

I'll wipe away all trivial fond records, 

All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past 

That youth and observation copied there, 

And thy commandment all alone shall live 

Within the book and volume of my brain 

(I.v.98-103) (my emphasis). 

At the end of this speech, Hamlet replaces "all" previous memory with a new 
"word" which he swears and writes down - "remember me". Ironically, in 
the very act of denying the various forms of language, he is compelled to 
employ the written word, and not merely to "remember", and so he 
demonstrates the power of the word over him. Thus the play shows Hamlet, 
in spite of himself, to be primarily language oriented rather than action 
oriented, and this scene suggests that his method of action will be by means 
of the word. 

Immediately after the ghost scene Hamlet appears to be resolved to act by 
means of the sword, but again his resolution is blurred by language. After the 
ghost scene, there is a very curious play on the words "swear" and "sword" 
(I.v.143-81). Hamlet requires his "friends, scholars and soldiers" to "swear" 
on the concrete object of his "sword", and not on "faith" as they are inclined 
to do. In this scene, the words "swear" or "sworn" are repeated ten times and 
"sword" is repeated five times, so that a totality is alluded to. "Swear" is a 
language act, and "Sword" is a combination of "word" and an object of action. 
Together they represent the conjunction of language and action, or word and 
deed, which later becomes Hamlet's word-sword method of action. 

However, at this point, and in spite of what appears to be resolution, Hamlet 
is still unable to act until he finds the proper method. The air of tension grows 
in the play, and Brennan points out that the audience builds up a "resistance 
to the desire to see a final face-to-face confrontation between Claudius and 
Hamlet", as is seen in the "two-dimensional heroes, who feature so frequently 
in revenge dramas". ^^ The audience hopes that Hamlet, the scholar, will be 
able to find a better way. 

There is a curious metaphorical pun in the fact that it is only after speaking 
to the 'actors' that Hamlet is able to 'act'. Hamlet undergoes a change in 
character and comes to the realization that his weapon lies in language; that 
word and sword are the same weapon; and that theatre will be the effective 
medium.*'* He says that he will ... 



Renaissance et Réforme / 305 

. . . cleave the general ear with horrid speech. 
Make mad the guilty, and appall the free, 
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed 
The very faculties of eyes and ears. 

[I] Must like a whore unpack my heart with words 

The play's the thing 

Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King (II.ii.561-605). 

This passage is packed with significance as we note the word-sword imagery 
in the phrase "cleave the general ear", and the reference to the profound effect 
of the "play" on the "faculties of eyes and ears". The images evoked by the 
words "mad", "appall", "confound", and "amaze", all refer to the great power 
of language to penetrate the reason and the conscience. 

It is important that all of this is to be accomplished through the theatre 
acting as a moral medium. It is at this point in the play that word becomes 
translated into deed, and acting and action come together into a word-sword 
conjunction. Hamlet finally realizes with certainty that his weapon is lan- 
guage, and that his vehicle must be the theatre. We note that language and the 
theatre can be both seen and heard, and that in the simultaneous engagement 
of both faculties in the experience of theatre, the one informs the other, and 
although dis-equilibrium may result for a time, nevertheless there is also the 
possibility of synthesis to be achieved through reason. 

In his examination of theatrical methods, Shakespeare juxtaposes two 
types: the mime of the Dumb-Show seen by eye alone, and the more com- 
prehensive theatre of the Mouse-Trap, which engages both eye and ear. Some 
productions of Hamlet leave out the Dumb-Show entirely, but this is a mistake 
because it is important to the plot and is essential to the thematic structure, 
imagery, and meaning. The role of the theatre is absolutely central to the 
meaning of the play, and the Mouse-Trap which finally brings revelation and 
certainty to Hamlet, is structured so that it is precisely in the middle of tlie 
play (Ill.ii). 

Norman Holland, in his brief essay "The Dumb-Show Revisited" points 
out that the Dumb-Show fits into the "metaphorical structure of the play as a 
whole". He says that by a "symbolic necessity" Claudius cannot react to the 
"inexplicable" Dumb-Show, because it does not enter his ears. He points out 
that the word "ear" occurs twenty-five times in Hamlet, more than in any other 
Shakespearean play. Also he states that in the Mouse-Trap, because drama 
enters the ear, therefore, "Claudius must see and understand", and what 



306 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Hamlet does, in effect, is to pour "poison into Claudius' ears".^^ Holland does 
not, however, note the significance in the relationship between the eye and 
the ear. 

In the dramatic juxtaposition of the eye and ear in the Dumb-Show and 
Mouse-Trap sequence Shakespeare is not merely making a statement about 
drama, but also about the dialectics of perception, and about the essential 
nature and theory of the theatre. Shakespeare would agree with Marshall 
McLuhan that "the medium is the message". 

Hamlet devises the play so that he can "pique the conscience" and know 
for certain the guilt of the King. He draws our eyes to the King just before the 
play begins, so that we note that the King is totally unaffected by the 
Dumb-Show, which Hamlet has already judged to be "inexplicable" (Ill.ii.- 
12). In this way, Shakespeare demonstrates that the play which appeals to the 
eye alone is totally ineffectual. In the Mouse-Trap however, the King is forced 
to both see and hear the dramatization of his guilty deed, and is trapped by 
its "argument". He confirms this when he says to Hamlet, "have you heard 
the argument?" (III.ii.232) (my emphasis). To this Hamlet replies, "they do 
but jest, poison in jest" (III.ii.232-34). This is a very curious pun on the 
'ingesting' of poison, a major theme and image in the play, which is then 
portrayed in the next part of the play. In this way Hamlet, acting as "chorus", 
lays the "poison" bait for the King. It is after seeing and hearing or ' ingesting' 
the play that the King appears to repent, although not sufficiently, because 
his lust for power is stronger than his faith. '^ 

It is important to this argument that the King, in the prayer scene, gives the 
appearance of repenting. In a sense, this is another Dumb-Show and this time 
Hamlet is the victim. Hamlet merely sees Claudius praying but cannot hear 
him, and so does not kill him although he now knows he is guilty. If Hamlet 
could also hear Claudius, he would know that he is not praying, and would 
then be able to act. The King speculates on prayer, but does not actually pray. 
He says, "Pray can I not,/though inclination be as sharp as will". He then rises 
and says "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:/ Words without 
thoughts never to heaven go" (III.iii.36-98). This scene demonstrates again 
the importance of perceiving with both facuUies in the attainment of truth.^^ 

The scene of the killing of Polonius follows immediately after the prayer 
scene. In the dramatic juxtaposition of the two scenes we see that in the prayer 
scene Hamlet does not kill Claudius because he sees but cannot hear, and then 
he does kill Polonius because he hears but cannot see. We note the Queen's 
description of the event: 



Renaissance et Réforme / 307 

[Hamlet] Behind thé arras hearing something stir 

Whips out his rapier, cries, "A rat, a rat!" 

And in this brainish apprehension kills 

The unseen good old man (IV.i.9-12)(my emphasis). 

Thus Hamlet becomes a victim of his own poor judgement based on that which 
"seems", which is an erroneous assessment of the sense data available to him. 

Ironically, Polonius is killed in the act of his favourite pastime, eaves- 
dropping. His method of gaining knowledge is concentrated almost exclu- 
sively on hearing, such as hearsay and rumour, which he chooses to view as 
certainty, and is killed because of being "too busy" in the very act. He is 
hidden behind the arras in order to "o'erhear" and is, therefore, unable to see 
the danger. Similarly, Hamlet hears him but cannot see him and, therefore, 
acts rashly on the basis of hearing alone, without benefit of the tempering 
faculty of eyesight, which would have stayed his hand. In a double irony, 
Polonius is killed by someone who also is relying on hearing to the exclusion 
of sight, and so, in a sense, he is killed by his own "defect", and "hoist with 
his own petar" (III.iv.33,207). 

When Hamlet kills Polonius, we know by the inevitable law of tragedy that 
his tragic fate has been sealed. AUhough Hamlet acts rashly and is guilty of 
the murder, he feels that a kind of justice has been done. Hamlet says: 

I do repent; but heaven hath pleas'd it so to punish 

me with this, and this with me, 

that I must be their scourge and minister (III. iv. 173). 

Hamlet knows that the scourge of God must also suffer the evil it performs 
(III.iv.l75f). There is a strong sense of mission in this speech, and Hamlet 
goes on to become the tragic hero of a general purgation and sacrifice. 

It is also appropriate that Hamlet should become the instrument of purga- 
tion since he was born into the very centre of the conflict - on the very day 
that his father killed Fortinbras's father (V.i.l44). This is the day that the cycle 
of death and revenge began and, therefore, appropriately, also the day on 
which the grave-digger came to his job (V.i,142^). This pivotal fact, placed 
in the mouth of one of the play ' s most minor characters, illustrates how closely 
written is the play, and how even the minor details contain major significance. 
The fact of Hamlet's unfortunate birthday contains the very key to his fate. 
The sins of the fathers pass inevitably to the next generation and the new 
Hamlet, the scholar, must now attempt to find a new and moral course to 
expiation in keeping with Christian law. 



308 / Renaissance and Reformation 

The killing of Polonius also demonstrates that the Revenge Code is an 
inappropriate solution, since rashness and danger enter also. Hamlet kills 
Polonius impulsively thinking it is Claudius, so as not to miss a second 
opportunity for revenge. He says "I took thee for thy better" (III.iv.32). It is 
only when Hamlet develops the word-sword method of action that he 
demonstrates purpose and direction. 

The effectiveness of the word-sword is evident when Hamlet confronts his 
mother with the evidence of the murder. He says, "I will speak daggers to her 
but use none" (III.ii.396)(my emphasis). We are made aware of the Queen's 
perceptual limitations when she is unaffected by the Mouse-Trap and can 
neither see nor hear the ghost (Ill.iv.l 13-7). It is only after Hamlet forces his 
mother to see and to hear that she repents. He forces her to "look" and repeats 
the word "eye" five times. Hamlet points out to her that of the five senses, 
she has only appetite, which feeds and gorges on sexual pleasures, and that 
she is totally lacking in the other four senses and in reason. He says: 

Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed. 
And batten on this moor? Ha, have you eyes? 



Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight, 
Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all. ... 

And reason panders will (III.iv.66,7; 78,9; 88). 

After this scene, the Queen is forced to see her "shame" and it is then that she 
admits that Hamlet has turned her "eyes into [her] very soul" (III.iv.53-95). 
A few lines later, she also acknowledges the faculty of hearing and says, 
"These words like daggers enter my ears", which paraphrases Hamlet's 
intention toward her (III. ii. 396). The Queen has followed the rational process 
in which the externally induced emotion of shame achieved through the eye, 
is internalized into guilt through the ear and reason. 

The effectiveness of the word-sword method of action is thus confirmed. 
After this scene, the Queen is forced to both see and hear and so her reason 
is now stimulated. The suggestion is made that through this process of 
awakening of the conscience, Hamlet is able to bring her to "confess herself 
to heaven" and to repentance (III. iv. 149). It is important to the Queen's 
characterization as a figure of appetite that she should die by ingesting the 
wine. She also dies because of her natural "defect". 

The eye and ear are also important in the scenes with Ophelia, and there is 
an interesting juxtaposition of the two women in the play. A contrast is set up 



Renaissance et Réforme / 309 

between the total sensuality of Gertrude and the total lack of sensuality of 
Ophelia. Unlike Gertrude who is poisoned through the mouth, Ophelia is 
poisoned through the ears by 'ingesting' her brother's and father's dangerous 
advice which instills fear of her own and of Hamlet's sensuality (I.iii.1-51). 
In Laertes' speech to her, there are many sensual images of nature, "blood", 
"moon", "spring", and "dew", but they are all sullied by images of "soil", 
"besmirching", "danger", "canker", "calumnious strokes", "unmast'red 
importunity", and "contagious blastments" (I.iii.5-52). We are reminded of 
Hamlet's sage remarks to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, "there is nothing 
either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" (II. ii. 249-50). In his speech to 
Ophelia, Laertes repeats the word "fear" five times. Four times he tells her to 
fear Hamlet, and once he says, "fear me not" (I.iii. 16,33,43,51). Clearly the 
emphasis is on fear of the body, and Ophelia hears the "good lesson" and 
accepts it as the "watchman to [her] heart" (I.iii.46). Her capacity to love is 
thereby totally constrained. 

Ophelia's father, Polonius also warns her about Hamlet's affections, but in 
his speech the emphasis is placed on fear of Hamlet's persuasive capabilities 
in language, and she is told not to believe his "promises", "vows", "tenders", 
"unholy suits", or "pious bonds", and finally not to "give words or talk", with 
Hamlet again (I.iii. 134). This also she obeys, and so becomes truncated by 
Laertes in the body, and by Polonius in the mind. She describes her rational 
deficiency in her statement to her father, "I do not know ... what I should 
think" (I.iii.l04), and also to Hamlet, "I think nothing, my Lord" (III.ii.117). 
It is significant that Ophelia's madness takes the curious form of deranged 
hearing and language, which is precisely the means by which her mind was 
poisoned against Hamlet (IV. v. 1-8). 

Hamlet puts on his own private Dumb-Show for Ophelia in which the eyes 
are featured, and thereby attempts to stimulate Ophelia's eyes into response 
in order to counteract the poisonous advice that she has received through the 
ear, but this also is ineffectual. In this scene, Hamlet does not speak or engage 
her ear in any way, but attempts to force her eyes to engage in an exchange 
with his own. He holds her firmly, stares long and hard into her eyes, as if to 
draw them out, and continues staring "to the last" as he retreats in defeat 
(II. i. 84-97). This scene foreshadows the Dumb-Show of Act III, and 
demonstrates that the Dumb-Show is an ineffective form of communication. 
Poor Ophelia finds both Dumb-Shows "inexplicable" (III. ii. 143). The scene 
also shows that language is vital to the understanding, however, language is 
not possible between Hamlet and Ophelia because her father and brother have 
preempted it. 



310 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Ophelia totally denies her sensuality in denying Hamlet's love, and so he 
commands her five times, once for each sense, "get thee to a nunnery" 
(III. i. 120-49). After the "nunnery" scene in which Hamlet uses language in 
the word-sword sense, Ophelia does finally see, and this also is repeated five 
times (III. i. 157-62). In this speech, Ophelia mentions all of the senses except 
touch (feeling). As her name "0-phelia" implies, she has no love or feeling, 
and dies with her "chaste treasure" intact - she is drowned and swept away 
by her "one defect", her own purity. While the full-blooded Gertrude dies by 
wine, Ophelia dies by water. 

There is a strong fundamental theme throughout the play that by a universal 
law of justice, the evil act brings its own retribution (I.iv.31). In the rash act, 
Hamlet is an "enginer" who is "Hoist with his own petar" (III.iv.207); Laertes 
says, "As the Woodcock ... I am justly killed with mine own treachery" 
(V.ii.307); and Claudius, is killed by "a poison temper'd by himself 
(V.ii.328). 

It would appear that the "stamp of one defect", or the "mole of nature" is 
an insurmountable human problem - a kind of original sin (I.iv.24— 38). In 
spite of the fatalism suggested by the inherent "mole", there is also the 
suggestion counter to fatalism and determinism, that man has the capability 
within himself to change his character. An illustration of this is Hamlet's 
advice to his mother, in which he says, O, throw away the worser part of it. 
.../Assume a virtue. .../ For use almost can change the stamp of nature" 
(Ill.iv. 157-68). There is also the suggestion that these defects could have been 
tempered by the use of reason, and a more thorough attention to all of the 
sense data available to the individual at the time. 

Hamlet undergoes a development of character in time as the play pro- 
gresses, and Rabkin notes that Shakespeare, in his mature work, "portrays 
extended time, because he sees character as changing". ^^ In some of the other 
plays, Shakespeare shows development taking place because of love. How- 
ever, in Hamlet the development occurs because of reason and is, therefore, 
nearer the modern ideas of existential freedom and responsibility. 

The character of Fortinbras, like Hamlet, undergoes change in time as the 
play progresses. At the beginning he is "of unimproved mettle hot and full", 
a vengeful warmonger, and symbolizes the old Revenge Code (I.i.95-105). 
Some development is shown in the fact that he does submit to embassies, 
negotiations and compromise, and embraces his fortune with sorrow 
(V.ii.388). Also, he wishes to "see", and is moved by the "sight" of the 
"dismal" carnage. He shows a new willingness to hear and to learn when he 
says, "let us haste to hear it" (V.ii. 386-88) (my emphasis). He then collabo- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 311 

rates with Horatio in theatre - in dramatizing the event so that it will be 
"presently perform'd/ ... while men's minds are wild" and thus prevent 
further bloodshed (V.ii.393-95). The scene suggests that this new emphasis 
on both eye and ear, and exposure to language and reason, will result in a 
more sober and moderate Fortinbras as he becomes ruler. 

The ending of the play in which Fortinbras is 'elected' to the throne by 
Hamlet shows that justice has been done and that the revenge cycle can now 
cease. Fortinbras says: "I have some rights of memory in this kingdom 
(V.ii.389-90). Therefore, the ending of the play, which appears to be totally 
pessimistic, and even resembles the modem theatre of the absurd, never- 
theless has some elements of resolution and hope for the future. A universal 
justice appears to be at work, but Shakespeare the realist, also shows that the 
'defects' are inherent in the next generation. 

In summary, Hamlet, a play about uncertainty, doubt and irony, reflects the 
intellectual and moral conflict as the Elizabethan age struggles with the 
abolition of the Revenge Code. The new generation's awareness that "the 
time is out of joint", and desire "to set it right" is analogous with the age's 
sense of transition and search for a new way (I.v. 188-89). With profound 
irony, the play demonstrates that the ghost of the past tradition cannot be 
easily extinguished, but lives on to generate a dialogue between past and 
present, which finally requires violence and destruction before resolution can 
be achieved. 

The profusion of eye and ear imagery in the play reflects Shakespeare's 
philosophy about the dialectical relationship between the eye and the ear and 
the reason. He shows that the exclusion of one or the other results in a 
truncation of the intellect and thus, in unwholesome judgement and action. 

Shakespeare's allusions to the theatre m Hamlet demonstrate his concern 
for its wellbeing and freedom of expression. The theatre's very existence is 
being threatened at the time of writing, and is one of Shakespeare's and of 
Hamlet's concerns in the play (II.ii.329-62fn; p. 1136). Shakespeare is con- 
cerned not merely for his livelihood, art, and the means of transmitting his 
ideas, but he also defends the theatre as a very effective moral medium which 
stimulates both eye and ear into a dialectic within the reason and conscience. 

Shakespeare's directive to Horatio the orator, makes it plain that the moral 
is conveyed to "th' yet unknowing world" by the poet through language, and 
that his most effective medium is the theatre. Just as Shakespeare intended, 
the experience of this play mirrors its intent. We as the audience, are 
compelled to participate in the process as we struggle along with Hamlet in 
the search for truth and meaning. Hamlet defends the importance of the 



312 / Renaissance and Reformation 

theatre's role in history as an "abstract" medium and he invokes the eye and 
the ear as he says: 

Will you see the players well bestow'd? 
Do you hear, let them be well us'd, for they are 
the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. 
(II.ii.522-25) (my emphasis). 

Notes 

1. Northrop Frye, Northrop Frye on Shakespeare, ed. Robert Sandler (Markham, Ontario: 
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1986) 89. 

2. It is significant that it is at Wittenberg that Hamlet was being educated, since that is 
where Martin Luther launched the Reformation in 1517, less than 100 years before 
Shakespeare wrote Hamlet. These were turbulent years of transition in England, with 
Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More, Mary Queen of Scots, the reigning Elizabeth I, and 
James, an ardent Protestant who would soon become King of England. 

3. Harry Levin,"The Question of Hamlet," Shakespearean Criticism Vol. I, ed. L.L. 
Harris (Detroit: Book Tower, 1985) 227-30. 

4. Anthony Brennan, Shakespeare's Dramatic Structures (London: Routledge & Kegan 
Paul, 1986) 130. 

5. William Shakespeare, ed. G.B. Evans, The Riverside Shakespeare (Boston: Houghton 
Mifflin, 1974). All further parenthetical references are to this edition. 

6. Levin 227-30. Levin speculates on this question: "Whether Hamlet was being led 
astray to eternal damnation or being enjoined to perform a sacred duty would thus be 
contingent on theological questions which were moot". 

7. Margot Heinemann, "How Brecht Read Shakespeare", Political Shakespeare, ed. 
Jonathan Dollimore, (London: Cornell UP, 1985) 217. 

8. Fredson Bowers, Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 
1966) 10, 11. Also see Chapter One in general. 

9. Alfred Harbage, Shakespeare and the Rival Traditions (New York: Columbia Univer- 
sity Press, 1952) 171-72. He says: "Any who take personal vengeance become 
murderers. Speculation over the reason for Hamlet's hesitation to slay Claudius has 
been singularly unconcerned with Shakespeare's hesitation to convert his hero into a 
villain. His audience would have looked askance at any slaying not committed in 
combat and heat of battle." 

10. Wilson, What Happens in Hamlet, (London: Cambridge University Press, 1967), 84. 

11. Allan Bloom, Shakespeare's Politics (New York: Basic Books, 1964), 103. Also the 
Robinson text (p.53) notes that Julius Caesar (1599) was still fresh in Shakespeare's 
mind when he wrote Hamlet (1600-01). 

12. Norman Holland, "The Dumb-Show Revisited". Notes and Queries (May, 1958): 191. 

13. Brennan, 130-1. 

14. Norman Rabkin, Shakespeare and the Common Understanding (New York: Free Press, 
1967), 250-1. Rabkin argues that the mature Shakespeare, in plays such as Hamlet, 



Renaissance et Réforme / 313 

King Lear, and Macbeth, portrays extended time and shows his characters changing 
over the course of their plays. He says that in Shakespeare, "indeed, villainy consists 
in a character's vice-like inability to change". 

15. Holland, 191. 

16. Bowers, 9. This is also evident in the final scene in which Claudius' love of power is 
stronger than his love of the Queen, so that even though he asks her not to drink the 
poison, nevertheless, he does not physically prevent her from doing so. Bowers states 
that by Elizabethan law, "Claudius in Hamlet is guilty of first-degree murder, and not 
of manslaughter when Gertrude dies of the poison he has intended for Hamlet". 

17. The prayer scene also serves to demonstrate Hamlet's deep commitment to the Chris- 
tian faith, unlike Laertes, who would kill "i' th' church" (IV, vii, 127). 

18. Rabkin, 250-1. 



Book Reviews / Comptes rendus 



Arthur F. Kinney and Dan S. Collins, editors. Renaissance H istoricism: Selections 
from English Literary Renaissance. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 
1987. Pp. XV, 411. 

Among the current catchy phrases in Renaissance literary criticism is one called 
"The New Historicism". While this shares some of the techniques and vocabulary 
of other recent schools (deconstruction, reader response, semiotics), and while it 
can represent a wide ideological spectrum ranging from American liberalism to 
British Marxism, it is important to recognize the New Historicism as a movement 
(it is not exactly a school) separate from those from which its adherents occasionally 
borrow. If there is a central tenet of New Historicist critics, it is that literary criticism 
cannot divorce the text from its social and political context: that criticism, in other 
words, must be a historical as well as a literary exercise. Accordingly, new historicist 
critics, some of the best of whom are represented in the volume under review, 
borrow from critics and philosophers (ranging from Marx to Gadamer to Foucault), 
from a number of political and cultural historians of the early modern period, such 
as Christopher Hill and Keith Thomas, and from cultural anthropologists including 
Victor Turner and Clifford Geertz. 

Now professional historians, long accustomed to using texts for illustrative 
purposes rather than pursuing their meaning as an end in itself, may have to fight 
back a smile at the thought that their brethren in English departments are only just 
discovering that texts are determined in large measure by their historical situations. 
Have we not been saying this all along? But it is best not to let the "We told you 
so" issue with too much of a smirk. There is something genuinely new about the 
new historicism, which makes it more than a rebellion against certain earlier 
ahistorical schools (most notably New Criticism) and a co-option of others (like 
deconstruction). And unlike what must now be considered "old" historicism, the 
historically-based criticism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, new 
historicism generally tries to avoid simplistic interpretations in which literary 
characters are seen only as veiled references to real persons. 

The essays in this volume, all previously published in one of the leading journals 
of new historicism, English Literary Renaissance, set a generally high standard. 
They are most definitely not for the beginner: even Arthur F. Kinney's prefatory 



316 / Renaissance and Reformation 

overview of recent critical trends and Jean E. Howard's lengthier survey of the new 
historicism would be tough nuts for most undergraduate English majors (to say 
nothing of most historians) to crack. Collectively, they raise a number of issues for 
consideration, such as the place of texts in society, the use of language to mirror or 
even create power relationships, and the relationship of literature to other sign-sys- 
tems, such as ritual. 

As Jean E. Howard notes in her opening essay. New Historicism is really an 
umbrella term for a number of very different criticisms, ranging from Stephen 
Greenblatt's genuinely historical approach (which has been shared by, for example, 
Richard Helgerson in America and Martin Butler and David Norbrook in England) 
to the eclectic works of Jonathan Goldberg, to the complex marxism of English 
critics such as Jonathan Dollimore. Howard suggests that the Renaissance has 
become home base for the movement because it is "a boundary or liminal space 
between two more monolithic periods" (8), the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment. 
I dare say that scholars in those fields might not concur with so static a view of the 
periods that frame the Renaissance, but it is interesting that in no other era has the 
New Historicism caught fire so well. That it has done so is in large measure due to 
the quality and energy of some of its best representatives, especially Stephen 
Greenblatt, who first coined the phrase. 

Louis Adrian Montrose, another highly influential new historicist, offers an essay 
on the relationship between the Elizabethan pastoral and the nature of power in the 
late sixteenth century. According to Montrose, the pastoral analogy was employed 
by the Elizabethan regime to present an image uniting "intimacy and benignity with 
authoritarianism". The essay is sensible, well-documented, and subtle, but like 
many of the other selections, it leads one to suspect that literary critics, quite 
properly eager to find historical authority for their assertions, may not always be as 
aware as they should be that not all historical authorities carry equal weight. Thus, 
Montrose hitches his cart to the increasingly discredited argument of RW. Thomas 
(first advanced in 1973) that by 1640 there had emerged two distinct and antago- 
nistic cultures, one associated with the court, the other with the country. Few early 
Stuart historians would now accept this interpretation, at least not without some 
serious modifications. Thomas' essay is also among the principal supports, much 
later in the volume, for Laurence Venuti's otherwise persuasive essay on the 
relationship between Shirley's masque The Triumph of Peace and the attempts of 
first James I and then Charles I to make their gentry subjects return to the 
countryside instead of idly hanging about in London. 

Annabel Patterson's contribution, "Re-opening the Green Cabinet," continues in 
a pastoral vein with a comparison of the works of Edmund Spenser and one of his 
French sources, the protestant poet Clément Marot. To Patterson, who takes up here 
where she left off in her important Censorship and Interpretation, pastoral repre- 
sents less an analogy for the exercise of power than a "language of exile" (for 
Marot), or a platform for the declaration of contradictory views of England's 
situation in the 1570s. She contrasts the optimistic vision presented in the April 



Renaissance et Réforme / 317 

eclogues of the Shepheardes Calender (1579) with the more sombre one issuing 
from the November eclogue, which contains a veiled critique of the proposed 
marriage of Elizabeth to the due d'Alençon. (This would have to be very veiled, if 
one recalls the fate of one critic, John Stubbs, who together with his printer lost his 
right hand on the scaffold.) Calendar issues and the character of agrarian life also 
figure in Peter Stallybrass's very interesting essay on Merrick's //esper/V/es, which 
suggests ways in which the country elite attempted to "construct carnival as 
controlled misrule" through deliberate revivals of classical festivals such as the 
Cotswold Games. 

The theme of censorship is a critical one for any discussion of the relationship 
between writing and power in the Renaissance, as is its obverse, the question of 
how the poet or dramatist may use his text to provide constructive criticism and 
advice to authority, to help shape policy without risking the fate of Stubbs, or of his 
Caroline successor, William Prynne. David Lindley shows how life could not only 
imitate but revise art in his treatment of Jonson's masque for the marriage of Frances 
Howard to the earl of Essex, Hymenaei: in the 1616 edition of Jonson's Works, all 
specific reference to that event was removed, the bride having subsequently 
divorced Essex for the Scottish earl of Somerset, and fallen with her new husband 
in the Overbury murder scandal. In an essay on censorship and the Jacobean stage, 
Philip J. Finkelpearl persuasively challenges the older view that a ruthlessly 
efficient censorship mechanism suppressed virtually all expression of political or 
religious dissent on the stage. Partly due to the temporary anarchy at the Revels 
Office early in the reign, "violations of nearly unbelievable magnitude"(193) 
occurred, though no dramatist was ever prosecuted under the libel laws. Finkelpearl 
relies a little too heavily on non-contemporary works such as Arthur Wilson's biased 
biography of James I, but his paper is well-balanced and fair to the king. 

Martin Butler's essay on the drama of the mid- 1630s focuses on how playwrights 
(including minor ones such as Lodowick Carlell and Henry Glapthorne) dealt with 
the issue of foreign affairs. Many of these plays, entertainments for the exiled 
palatine prince, Charles Louis, confront the old question of whether England should 
stay neutral in the Thirty Years' War or jump in on France's side. Butler's essay is 
interesting not only for its attention to the minor drama of the period than for his 
argument, supported by careful scholarship, that Henrietta Maria was, at least before 
1637, not the pawn of Rome that many historians have made of her. Similar close 
attention to the facts characterizes the essay of F.J. Levy (the only historian in the 
volume) on "Francis Bacon and the Style of Politics", which examines the origins 
of the first, 1597, edition of Bacon's Essayes in the context of the overlapping crises 
of humanism and of politics in the 1590s. 

Not all the essays achieve quite the high standard of these. In an essay on the 
"hegemonic theatre" of George Puttenham, Jonathan V. Crewe insists on reading 
drama, at least in the context of Puttenham's account of the origins of literary genres, 
as the instrument of the "ruling class". This begs the question of what exactly that 
ruling class was, of whom it consisted, and of how it got that way (particularly since 



318 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Crewe obfuscates his own argument by referring to the rulers confusingly as a 
"caste"); so does Crewe's earnest reference to "the intense hostility of the populace 
to their self-elected rulers" (99), which might surprise even a committed marxist 
historian like Christopher Hill. 

This sort of generalization, though without quite the same level of zeal, is also 
represented in Anthony Low's paper on the "New Science and the Géorgie Revo- 
lution in Seventeenth Century England". According to Low, the rise of Baconian 
and post-Baconian experimental science helped give sweaty agricultural labour (as 
opposed to blissful pastoral leisure) a prestige it had previously lacked, and did so 
even before Dry den's translation of Virgil's Georgics in 1677. This is a fascinating 
hypothesis, worth further exploration (which it has since received in a book by 
Low), but what is one to make of broad statements such as that "the decade that 
seems to have tipped the balance from a basically feudal to a basically modern 
system of land use was that of the 1650s" (330)? Low's argument is not helped by 
an over-simple understanding of the character of the "new science" as a monolithic 
force. As Bacon scholars have long known, and as the final essay in the volume, by 
Janet E. Halley, demonstrates, there is something fundamentally incoherent about 
seventeenth-century science, at least as it is dealt with by a well-known virtuoso 
such as Sir Thomas Browne, whose Garden of Cyrus represents a kind of middle 
ground between the "formlessness" of Baconianism and Jan Amos Comenius' 
projected systematizing. 

If some of the papers come close to representing a naive marxist vision of 
seventeenth-century England, Philip J. Ayres' piece on the nature of Ben Jonson's 
Roman History Plays threatens to belabour the obvious. Through a lengthy rehearsal 
of the events of Roman history, and a comparison of historical accounts with 
Jonson's treatment of them in Seianus his Fall and Catiline his Conspiracy, Ayres 
establishes what we already knew, that Jonson was primarily a dramatist, not an 
historian, without confronting directly the more interesting problem of exactly 
where and how drama and prose history overlap in the early seventeenth century. 
Because it is acted out, seen and heard, rather than simply read, drama is the most 
inviting of genres for critics interested in ritual, and ten of the seventeen papers deal 
either with the public stage or with the masque, poetry receiving less emphasis and 
prose writings, including history, less still. On the other hand, most of the authors 
are careful to link the drama to developments in other genres and in politics. Eugene 
D. Hill, for instance ties Kyd's Spanish Tragedy both to the transition between 
Virgilian and Senecan dramatic styles and to the appearance of anti-Spanish views 
in non-dramatic writings such as Richard WdtkhxyV?, Discourse of Western Planting. 

Feminism, too, has its representatives in this volume. By beginning with a 
documented case of a "skimmington ride", a popular ritual re-enacting and censur- 
ing the unsuccessful marriage of a Suffolk husbandman in 1604, Karen Newman 
anchors her essay on the Renaissance family more firmly than most in the historical 
record. Focusing on The Taming of the Shrew, Newman argues for the occurrence 
of a "crisis of order" between the sexes, in which women rebelled against the 



Renaissance et Réforme / 319 

"master narrative" of patriarchy. Suzanne Gossett examines the treatment of rape 
in Jacobean drama. She argues that before 1616 the female victims of such assaults 
invariably died (often at their own hands) out of grief for their besmirched honour, 
thereby succumbing not just to their attacker but to the patriarchal value system. 
After 1616, however, the treatment of rape changed radically, even permitting 
"happy" endings in which the rape itself ceased to be a heinous felony and became 
little more than a sexual impulse, often resolved by a marriage between rapist and 
victim. Gossett is on to something here, and it is a pity that she chooses to tie her 
interesting argument to the tired old cliché of the "decadent" Jacobean court. The 
question of the "stability" of the relationship between the sexes (which historians 
and anthropologists have come to realize was more complex than the writings of 
male contemporaries would have us believe) are among the most exciting issues in 
this volume, and the essays of Gossett and Newman are rounded off by Mary Beth 
Rose's examination of the place of apparel in the Hie Mulier/Haec Vir controversy 
of 1620 and its connection with the outstanding early Jacobean example of dramatic 
transvestism, Middleton and Dekker's The Roaring Girl, in which audiences 
watched a male actor play a woman playing a man. 

On balance, this is a useful collection, though not every essay in it will be to 
everyone's taste - hardly a terrible thing to say about a book. Like much modern 
literary criticism, its authors attempt to embrace history with some success, while 
at the same time casting their discussions in a vocabulary that is likely to scare off 
most historians. This is really too bad. Yet the fact that it is now possible to have 
such a wide variety of views on Renaissance literature within the same covers is 
testimony to the extraordinary influence the New Historicism has achieved in a 
relatively short period of time. 

D.R. WOOLF, Dalhousie University 



R. Po-chia Hsia. The Myth of Ritual Murder. Jews and Magic in Reformation 
Germany. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988. Pp. vii, 248. 

The Jews, to their frequent dismay, have found themselves at various times in 
history involuntary actors in a play they neither wrote nor controlled. One of these 
times was the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Caught up in a web 
of Christian lay-piety and fundamental changes in the political and social structure 
of towns and cities, the Jews in German lands were widely suspected by their 
neighbours of practising the ritual murder of Christian children in order to mock 
the Christian religion and in order to utilize their blood in a variety of magical 
rituals. Related to this were suspicions that Jews were wont to desecrate the host as 
a part of their conspiracy against Christ and the Church. 

As Professor Hsia writes in the introduction to this book, it is all too tempting to 
engage in a refutation of these charges. For though they have been convincingly 



320 / Renaissance and Reformation 

repudiated, time and again, the myth is still not dead. Fortunately, the author has 
decided not to reinvent the wheel but rather to engage in another sort of dialogue 
with the past. His book is an attempt to understand how it was that German 
Christians in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries constructed their reality in such 
a way that a missing or murdered child was almost inevitably blamed upon 
malevolent Jewish action and not other things. 

In doing so, Hsia analyzes the documents relating to the arrest, judicial torture, 
conviction and execution on these charges of numerous Jews of the Holy Roman 
Empire. He also pursues this subject in terms of its repercussions in the popular 
culture of the time, literate and non-literate. 

As a historian of late Medieval and early Modern Germany. Hsia has done a good 
job of placing the myth of ritual murder in its social, political, religious, and legal 
context. Thus, for example, it becomes clear that the Jews and their guilt or 
innocence became an issue in the struggle by various German cities for juridical 
independence from the imperial system of justice. Indeed, as Hsia sees it, it is largely 
the strengthening and, above all, the professionalization of justice in the Holy 
Roman Empire which ultimately caused the gradual cessation of ritual murder 
charges in Germany. 

Professor Hsia is at his best where he is most at home in the legal and political 
archives of early Modern Germany. He is less at home with the Jewish sources and 
has had to content himself with the available translations and secondary literature 
on the subject. This almost inevitably leads to a few minor inaccuracies which do 
not, however, detract from the authority of the book as a whole. For, ultimately, the 
story of the ritual murder legend is not a Jewish story, though the Jews play an 
involuntary lead role. It was not the Jew of flesh and blood who practised ritual 
murder; it was the mythical demonic Jew who would perpetrate such a crime. In his 
largely successful attempt to understand the way German Christians constructed 
reality in consonence with the myth of the demonic Jew, he has given the reader an 
important insight into the religious and social reality of late Medieval and early 
Modern Europe. 

IRA ROBINSON, Concordia University 



Massimo Miglio, Francesca Niutta, Diego Quaglioni and Concetta Ranieri, eds. 
Un pontificato ed una città: Sisto IV (1471-1484). Atti del convegno: Roma, 3 - 
7 dicembre 1984. Vatican City: Scuola vaticana di paleografia, diplomatica e 
archivistica, 1986. Pp. xv, 826. 

Here we have a volume of work in progress. What unites it is not only the time and 
subject, the reign of Sixtus IV and the culture of court and city, but also a shared 
endeavour, for many of the writers have trained together or are jointly engaged in 



Renaissance et Réforme / 321 

projects. There are thirty-six articles, of which one is in English, one in French, and 
the rest in Italian. The authors, however, number only twenty-nine, for many of 
them appear more than once, or even twice, often as co-authors. Interestingly, 
despite male hegemony in the Italian professorate, we have here almost twice as 
many female romanisti as male. 

The very virtue of the book, the freshness of work still only partly done, is also 
its greatest vice; well rounded conclusions and clear statements of problems are 
scarce. Furthermore, those there are often pop up at unexpected moments, for these 
Italian scholars seldom share the Anglo-Saxon love for structured argument. 
Against what can often be an irritating vagueness, antiquarian narrowness or 
unwillingness to dare or to conclude much, we can throw into the other pan of our 
scales not only zest, but also technical skill. The book rests on good archival work 
and paleography, energetic compilation, and wide reading. The footnotes, which 
must take up half the text, are thus a fine hunting ground for any Romanist. 

A few topics dominate the book. Of these, most belong to the history of literary 
high culture: books, libraries, printers, the university, inscriptions, chronicles. With 
only one article on music and one on sculpture, there is much less on the arts than 
on letters. At the same time, there is some social history, including three articles on 
the Jews and one quite skilled one on the evolution of a single Roman family, the 
Porcari. Furthermore, much of the end of the book is given to reports from a team 
of scholars who are studying one of the city's districts, Rione Parione, using the 
protocols of its notaries to reconstruct patterns of residence, labour, commerce, and 
devotion. Among these papers is a particularly interesting piece by Giovanna Curcio 
on the swift change in the city's houses as rents and population both rose rapidly, 
clogging alleys and crowding out the old gardens. 

Rome is not an easy city to study. Unlike Venice and Florence, which had one 
elite and one government, Rome was a many-headed monster. There were two great 
poles, the Vatican and the Campidoglio, the seat of the waning commune. But there 
were myriad other centres of power: baronial fortresses, royal embassies, and the 
households of great cardinals. To make matters worse, the inevitable mortality of 
every regime, fated to vanish with each passing pontiff, gave the social and political 
scene and extraordinary lability. And no other Italian town was so full of mobile 
foreigners. So it has never been easy to write Roman history; there are still no great 
synthetic works like those on other cities. 

In the face of such problems, the articles in this volume strive to weave lines of 
association, placing scholars in networks of papal politics, linking monastic librar- 
ies with skeins of neighborly patronage, sitting the evolution of inscriptions in the 
movement of papal politics, tunneling through the notarial records to reconstruct 
the evolution of a family's enterprises. It is as if those many poles of power in the 
city were draped in webs of influence, patronage and loyalty. We cannot see these 
whole, but we glimpse them everywhere. In this volume, as a kind of leitmotiv, we 
find again and again the tension between the two strongest of these poles, the papal 
court and the old civic order, for Sixtus IV was a durable centralizer. His pontificate 



322 / Renaissance and Reformation 

marks the final eclipse of civic aspirations and a swifter movement toward statism. 
The Romanizing inscriptions, the ambitious new Vatican Library, the new bridge 
and streets, the papal hospital of Santo Spirito, the transferal of the market from 
Campidoglio to Campo di Fiori all bear witness to a movement which sucked both 
culture and society into its wake. 

THOMAS V. COHEN, York University 



Fernand HALLYN, La structure poétique du monde: Copernic, Kepler, Paris, 
Seuil, 1987,316 pp. 

On sait gré à l'auteur, dans son Introduction, de présenter l'objet de sa démarche 
avec toute la clarté désirable et de l'avoir délimité de façon précise comme 
recherche de lapoétique de l'hypothèse scientifique, c'est-à-dire comme recherche 
et mise en lumière de ce moment où l'oeuvre est d'abord rêvée et pensée comme 
seulement possible, avant de prendre forme. Les catégories fondamentales de la 
problématique abordée sont mises dans leur juste perspective culturelle. Le corps 
de l'ouvrage est bien articulé, chaque chapitre se ventilant en plusieurs sections 
brèves, qui apporte chacune, sans redondance, le supplément d'information attendu 
et nécessaire. La matière, évidemment abstraite, s'en trouve allégée et le livre, 
d'ardu qu'il aurait pu être, est, sans concession à la facilité, de lecture agréable. 
L'ensemble repose sur une documentation et une information solides et parfaite- 
ment intégrées. 

On peut regretter l'absence de bibliographie, mais cette lacune se trouve partielle- 
ment compensée par l'abondance des notes et références, regroupées section par 
section. Un double index des noms cités complète l'ouvrage, et une table des 
matières, sufisamment détaillée, peut pallier l'absence d'un index rerum. La 
présentation typographique est bonne et les coquilles, s'il en est, sont certainement 
rares. Signalons cependant une formulation erronée de la deuxième loi de Kepler 
(p. 229) et relevons au passage ce "préjudice" en lieu et place de "préjugé" (p. 133), 
anglicisme étonnant sous cette plume. 

Par la problématique abordée, par les nombreuses perspectives qu'il dégage, par 
les remarques et annotations pertinentes qui l'émaillent, comme par ses qualités 
formelles, le livre de F. Hallyn provoque l'intérêt de son lecteur, et cet intérêt ne se 
dément à aucun moment. C'est pourquoi il incite à la discussion, discussion dont 
on regrette de ne pouvoir ici donner qu'une ébauche. 

Distinguant la spécificité de son enquête de celle de l'épistémologue comme de 
celle de l'historien des sciences, Fernand Hallyn évoque le cadre culturel de ses 
protagonistes, leur insertion dans ce cadre et leurs réactions face aux valeurs qui y 
sont véhiculées. Il retrace avec bonheur les corrélations, convergences et 
correspondances multiples qui relient, de façon souvent inattendue, les expressions 
culturelles les plus diverses, qui vont de l'architecture à la peinture, des sym- 



Renaissance et Réforme / 323 

bolismes liturgiques à l'astronomie, de l'ébénisterie aux recherches géométriques 
et de la numérologie aux descriptions anatomiques. Tel est l'arrière-plan intellectuel 
sur lequel se déroule une intense activité artisanale et artistique, doublée d'une 
recherche théorique qui empruntera au néoplatonisme, ses catégories, ses images 
et sa symbolique. 

L'Auteur souligne la visée essentiellement anagogique de cette symbolique, qui 
a toujours pour intention de lire la création comme signe visible de son créateur, 
étant entendu cependant que cette signification n'est pas immédiatement donnée: 
elle doit, au préalable, avoir été déchiffrée, souvent péniblement. Si tel est le 
dénominateur commun de cette époque, il apparaît à la lecture du livre de F. Hallyn, 
que cette intention commune se traduit cependant de manière fort diverse dans 
chacune des oeuvres considérées. 

Pour Copernic, par exemple, l'univers, dans son unité organique profonde, est 
régi par une raison, une certa ratio, proportionalité qui devra se retrouver, identique, 
aux différents niveaux cosmiques. C'est ce que Copernic entend par "symétrie" et 
la tâche du philosophe comme celle de l'astronome consistera précisément à mettre 
cette "symétrie" en lumière. C'est cette intention qui motive la recherche de 
Copernic, c'est en cette intention qu'elle trouve sa source et son origine. On le sait, 
l'hypothèse héliostatique n'était pas, de prime abord, vraiment plus "simple" que 
l'hypothèse de Ptolémée, ni quant au nombre de postulats, ni quant aux applications 
pratiques. Mais elle est plus intégrante, donc plus harmonieuse, plus "symétrique" 
que celle de Ptolémée, et c'est ce qui la justifiait aux yeux de son auteur. 

Kepler partage l'intention fondamentale de Copernic, et cette intention ne cessera 
de le guider dans les précisions et dans les remaniements successifs qu'il apportera 
à son système: il s'agira toujours de retrouver "l'admirable proportion des orbes" 
comme le dit le titre de son Mystère cosmographique. C'est en effet ce souci 
d'harmonie qui le conduira, d'abord, à concevoir la structure de l'univers selon 
l'ordre d'imbrication des polygones réguliers. Kepler n'abandonnera jamais cette 
vision de r"organigramme" cosmique, mais il sera peu à peu amené à y voir, non 
une réalité achevée, mais un idéal vers lequel tend la Nature, sans jamais pouvoir 
le rejoindre: aveu d'un divorce radical entre le sensible et l'intelligible, en lequel 
l'Auteur voit la marque de la mentalité baroque. Ce sera essentiellement en vue de 
préserver ce modèle que Kepler sera conduit à abandonner le cercle, malgré sa 
convenance métaphysique, et, par approximations successives, à lui substituer 
l'ellipse. Mais l'ellipse, à son tour, d'abord vue comme déformation du cercle, 
conduira Kepler à concevoir une explication dynamique des mouvements 
planétaires. Le soleil, comme cause physique devient le moteur des planètes: à la 
causalité formelle - la double perfection du soleil comme centre d'orbites cir- 
culaires - se substituera une causalité efficiente. Finalement, pour parachever sa 
reconstruction, Kepler découvre, plutôt qu'il n'invente, (telle, du moins, est sa 
conviction) la véritable harmonie cosmique, qui est musicale, et dont les justes 
rapports se peuvent calculer grâce à sa troisième loi, qui met en relation les vecteurs 
et les temps des révolutions planétaires. Ainsi l'intelligibilité cosmique, le "plan de 



324 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Dieu", se réalise et se déchiffre à deux niveaux, celui, approximatif, de l'imbrication 
des polygones, celui, englobant, plus parfait et donc plus ardu à décrypter, de la 
divine musique des sphères. Parlant au nom de Kepler, l'auteur peut dès lors 
conclure: 

Tous les éléments du plan de la Création ont ainsi été élucidés. Ainsi, s'explicite 
de plus en plus l'iWee mathématique de la Création: monde sans arbitraire ni hasard, 
où toute altérité fait proportion, et où la proportion, "le plus beau des liens" d'après 
le Tintée, assure "aux termes qu'il relie la plus complète unité." (p. 257-258) 

La cosmographie keplerienne, comme celle du Copernic, a donc toujours une 
dimension nettement anagogique: Coeli enarrant gloriam Dei. Pourtant, il 
semblerait, à lire l'ouvrage de Fernand Hallyn, que cette finalité commune revête 
une importance très inégale aux yeux de chacun des protagonistes. L'un et l'autre, 
certes, y puisent leur motivation. Pour Copernic, cependant, même s'il affirme que 
la mise en lumière de la symétrie est "la chose principale" (cf. p. 86 et suiv.), il 
semble que l'oeuvre achevée, c'est-à-dire l'affirmation de l'héliocentrisme, finisse 
par l'emporter en importance sur cette motivation initiale. Il y aurait même comme 
une inversion de priorité: c'est l'hypothèse héliocentrique qui se voit confortée par 
sa valeur de symétrie, non l'inverse, et l'on comprend alors que les premiers 
coperniciens, dans leur défense de l'héliostatisme, aient pris argument de cette 
"convenance", qui devient ainsi moyen en vue d'une fin. 

Il en va tout autrement de Kepler. Bien plus fidèle, en fait à Vesprit du 
néoplatonisme, il voit dans l'achèvement de son oeuvre scientifique, la confirma- 
tion du sens anagogique intrinsèque au cosmos, sens qui se traduit par la juste 
proportion des orbes, que lui, Kepler, a réussi à déchiffrer. Ici donc, le discours 
scientifique est explicitement mis au service du discours symbolique, dont il 
confirme l'adéquation, comme mise à jour du langage divin. 

Autres encore, comme l'auteur le note clairement, seront les attitudes du P. 
Mersenne, de Robert Fludd et de Simon Stevin. Pour le correspondant de Descartes, 
en effet, seul le discours scientifique a valeur cognitive, tandis que le discours 
symbolique, dénué de tout sens métaphysique immanent, ne conserve qu'une utilité 
pratique, didactique: réserve d'images et de métaphores percutantes que le 
prédicateur habile saura utiliser à ses fins, en comparant, par exemple, les propriétés 
des sections coniques aux attributs divins. 

Par contre, et tout à l'opposé de Mersenne, c'est la pertinence du langage 
mathématique lui-même, que Robert Fludd met en cause, car les mathématiques 
"seraient incapables d'apporter une connaissance concrète des choses" (p. 263). 
Pour Fludd, il ne subsisterait alors qu'une symbolique à l'état pur, valant en soi et 
indépendamment de toute référence cognitive - à moins que, ce qui reviendrait au 
même, le cognitif ne s'identifie tout simplement au symbolique. 

Enfin, "si Stevin croit à la vérité du système copernicien, il refuse (...) en même 
temps de penser cette vérité dans l'optique formiste et anagogique qui est encore 
celle de Kepler" et par conséquent 'ni la possibilité ni le refus d'une interprétation 



Renaissance et Réforme / 325 

symbolique ne le concernent vraiment" (p. 233). Avec Stevin, dès lors, la boucle 
est bouclée: renonçant à toute lecture anagogique du monde, l'activité scientifique 
se déroule désormais "sans rapport supposé avec un monde situé au-delà", comme 
le dit Northrop Frye, que cite l'auteur (p. 49). 

On constate alors que, de Kepler à Fludd et Stevin, l'unité organique du 
néoplatonisme se désintègre en deux discours parallèles, qui ne se rejoindront plus. 
Se dessine aussi, fut-ce pour des raisons différentes, une situation analogue à celle 
qui prévalait au quatorzième siècle, alors qu'un même fidélisme se traduisait en un 
double discours, celui, mystique, de Maître Eckhardt et de Ruysbroek, celui, 
scientifique, propre aux nominalistes. Le parallélisme est tel que l'auteur, souvent, 
pourrait reprendre en conclusion de son ouvrage, les remarques par lesquelles, en 
son premier chapitre, il décrivait les attitudes mentales pré-rinascimentales. On 
pourrait ajouter que ce n'est certes pas par hasard si la distinction nominaliste entre 
la potentia dei absoluta et ordinata se trouve à la base de toute l'épistémologie 
cartésienne, comme en témoignent précisément les lettres que Descartes adressait 
au P. Mersenne (e. a. en avril 1630): 

Pour mettre la mutation héliocentrique en une juste perspective, il fallait dégager 
"les images, les symboles, les textes autour desquels (cette mutation) s'est 
cristallisée" (p. couverture). C'est ce que Fernand Hallyn a fait, et de manière 
excellente. Une telle entreprise cependant court le risque d'évacuer la part 
irréductible qui, dans l'apparition de tout nouveau paradigme, revient au "génie" 
de ses premiers porte-parole. Hallyn, certes, ne nie pas cette part, mais il r"oblitère" 
en quelque sorte. Or, si nous considérons Copernic, Kepler et Mersenne - ce dernier, 
au moins, à titre de "représentant" de Descartes ou de Galilée - , nous voyons trois 
personnages qui, issus d'une même "terreau culturel", y réagissent cependant 
chacun d'une manière propre et personnelle. Cette autonomie et cette liberté face 
aux emprises de la culture ne constituent-elles pas, précisément, ce que l'on peut 
appeler "le génie"? Et sans doute est-ce aussi cette liberté qui est à l'origine de la 
"solitude" qui, comme l'auteur le signale à plus d'une reprise, marque l'oeuvre de 
Kepler. Et il y a ici un dernier paradoxe car, de tous les personnages évoqués dans 
ce livre, Kepler est sans conteste celui qui s'était le plus totalement identifié à la 
veine néoplatonicienne que véhiculait son temps, et qui en avait le plus 
intégralement assimilé les valeurs. Mais sans son génie, il n'aurait pas abandonné 
le cercle au profit de l'ellipse, ni préféré l'explication motrice de la physique, à 
l'explication formelle de la géométrie ... 

LOUIS VALCKE, Université de Sherbrooke 



326 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Joseph Bergin. Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld. Leadership and Reform in the 
French Church. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1988. VIII + 392. 

L'intérêt parle toutes sortes de langages, et joue toutes sortes de personnages, 
même celui de désintéressé. (François de la Rochefoucauld [1613-1618], grand- 
nephew of the Cardinal, maxime # 39) 

This maxim of the famous grand-nephew of the Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld would 
serve well as an introductory motto for Professor Bergin 's book on the Cardinal 
(1558-1645), who was a leader of the church and a reformer of the regular clergy 
in France. Joseph Bergin states in the introduction: 

Genuine reform 'in head and members' of a church dominated at almost every 
level by vested interests embedded in an archaic benefice-system would have had 
to have been revolutionary to be wholly successful, and there was nothing 
revolutionary about the Counter-Reformation church, (p.2) 

The Cardinal had actually to struggle against a tight network of benefice-interests 
of clergy, nobility and crown which sabotaged to a large extent his lifelong attempts 
at reform of the clergy in general and the monastic orders in particular. Bergin 
uncovers in his extremely well documented study a little known aspect of French 
church history of the first half of the seventeenth century. In chapters one to five he 
describes the Cardinal's education and career, paying close attention to their 
political context. The following five chapters describe the Cardinal's activities as 
papal commissioner for the reform of the monastic orders in France and his ongoing 
fight against anti-reformist interests. 

The king nominated François de la Rochefoucauld at the age of 26 as Bishop of 
Clermont. He had not reached the minimum age for a Bishop, but he had no problem 
in getting the papal confirmation. Both the crown and the curia had strong political 
interests in his becoming Bishop of Clermont. Bergin writes: 

At a time when royal authority was weakening noticeably in the provinces, an 
episcopal nomination was an important political act ... The family seat [of the 
Rochefoucaulds] was, after all, in the Auvergne, and one consequence of the 
monarchy 's weakness was greater pressure to nominate bishops whose family base 
was in the vacant diocese, (p. 16) 

The curia, on the other hand, was afraid of Gallicanism, i.e. that movement in the 
French church that tended toward more and more independence from Rome. 
François de la Rochefoucauld had no academic degree, although he had received 
an excellent education at the Jesuit college in Paris. In spite of that, and in spite of 
being too young, he received the papal confirmation soon after the king had 
nominated him, for, as Bergin writes, at that time "the papacy tended to worry more 
about the orthodoxy of incoming French bishops than their qualifications." (p. 17) 
About the orthodoxy of this nomine, however, there were no doubts at all. Trained 



Renaissance et Réforme / 327 

by the Jesuits, he was ultramontane and, in addition, descended from an ultramon- 
tane family. It is ironic that François de la Rochefoucauld owed his bishopric to a 
system of political interests which he as a reformer was to struggle against all his 
life. 

François' older Brother, Jean-Louis, was governor of Auvergne and a strong 
partisan of the Ligue, during the tensions between the Catholic Ligue and the crown. 
François, too, was a lifelong Liguist. He recognised Henry IV only because he 
received papal authorisation to do so. "His allegiance to the crown was conditional 
upon its support for the church, and Henry IV was not the ideal defensor fidei." 
(p.33) 

But Henry of Navarre was now king of France, and in recognition of this fact. La 
Rochefoucauld dedicated the second edition of his treatise De VAuthorité de 
l'Eglise to him. As the king was interested in building up French influence in Rome, 
he made La Rochefoucauld Ambassador to the Holy See, and, on the king's 
suggestion, the Pope made him Cardinal. In this position La Rochefoucauld had, 
nolens volens, to represent French interests. 

After the assassination of Henry IV, Gallicanism gained strength in France. La 
Rochefoucauld attended the Estates General as a delegate, and the dispute over 
state-church relations going on there 

propelled La Rochefoucauld into political life. The very first article of the Third 
Estate's cahier demanded the enactment of a fundamental law to the effect that the 
king and his kingdom were subject to no external power, either spiritual or 
temporal; that he was answerable to God alone, to whom he owed his crown; that 
those holding opinions contrary to this law - which was in accordance with God's 
word - should be considered traitors and sworn enemies of the crown; and that all 
office - and benefice-holders should be required to assent to it before taking up 
their offices, (p. 50 f) 

This article "was the distilled essence of Gallican and parlamentaire thought." 
(ibid.) It is ironic again that La Rochefoucauld and other leading clergy were 
appointed by the Régente Marie de Medici to find a compromise between the 
antagonistic parties. Soon the conflict was aggravated by the clergy's (especially 
the Jesuits') attempt to make the decisions of the Council of Trent part of the French 
law. 

Bergin gives a fascinating picture of French internal policy's being paralysed 
again and again by the conflicting interests of clergy, nobility and Third Estate. La 
Rochefoucauld as president of the King's Council and Grand Almoner of France 
stands in the centre where all those lines of interest cross. Richelieu succeeds him 
as president of the King's Council. (In his brilliant study entitled Cardinal Richelieu. 
Power and the Pursuit of Wealth Professor Bergin described how Richelieu as head 
of the administration followed his own interests and accumulated enormous 
wealth.) 



328 / Renaissance and Reformation 

In 1622 "the papacy finally granted [La Rochefoucauld] a special commission 
for six years to reform the main monastic orders of France. It was an undertaking 
that had the king's support, but even so the task was enormous." (p.65 f) This new 
task took the Cardinal away from the court. He directed the reform from his Paris 
hôtel Ste-Geneviève, holding innumerable meetings with abbots, bishops and 
patrons of the various monasteries. His reform work was relatively successful with 
the Canons Regular, but failed with Cluny and Citeaux. In many ways La 
Rochefoucauld's undertaking was diametrically opposed to Cardinal Richelieu's 
tendencies. La Rochefoucauld represented the centralism of the curia; the reformed 
orders were more strictly bound to Rome than before. Richelieu, on the other hand, 
attempted 

to define royal power more precisely, and to raise kingship above all earthly 
authority ... French foreign policy, directed mainly against Habsburg-Spain 
seemed increasingly divorced from religious considerations and hostile to the best 
interests of Catholicism, (p. 68) 

What the author, appropriately remaining within the limits of his subject matter, 
does not mention is that Cardinal Richelieu substantially supported the Swedish 
Lutheran king's attack against the German Emperor's armies in the Thirty Years 
War. Habsburg surrounded France from the South (Spain), the South-East (Lom- 
bardy), the East (Alsace) and the North (Netherlands). So it was in France's national 
interest that Habsburg be weakened, regardless of the Emperor's Catholicity. Cecil 
Rhodes is said to have coined the maxim: "A country never has continual friends 
or continual enemies; a country only has continual interests." One is tempted to add 
to this one more sentence: "Neither does a country have a permanent religion or 
Cardinal Richelieu exemplifies this". 

What is said in these maxims about whole nations could, however, also be said 
about smaller communities. Professor Bergin gives ample evidence for the validity 
of these maxims for each of the three parts of the French Estates General. And 
chapters six to ten of his book present a series of cases in which still small 
communities (families, bishops as patrons of monasteries, monasteries themselves) 
want to preserve their material interests against La Rochefoucauld's religiously 
motivated attempts at reform. 

The Cardinal requested "full return to community life and observance based on 
the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; exemptions and privileges 
militating against them would be suppressed." (p. 167) He intended to add to every 
chapter of reformed Canons Regular a ''Séminaire des enfants ... to educate young 
boys and to prepare those with a vocation for their entry into the religious life." 
(ibid.) He had, however, to give up this project at the chapter of Ste-Geneviève in 
Paris, i.e. at his own residence, because the Jesuits were opposed to it. They were 
afraid this new school might compete with their own college, (p. 174) Really, 
"l'intérêt parle toutes sortes de langages", including the language of the Jesuits. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 329 

The reader admires La Rochefoucauld for overcoming again and again so many 
frustrating experiences and for tirelessly pursuing his reform work. The church 
historian will be grateful to Professor Bergin for having unearthed such a complex 
and fascinating chapter of Counter-Reformation. 

JAKOB AMSTUTZ, University ofGuelph 



Alan Young. Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments. London: George Philip, 1987. 
Pp. 224. 

Twenty-five years ago, Glynne Wickham observed at the start of Early English 
Stages that "Of the many separate components that Time has welded together to 
form the literary drama, few have received such scant attention from historians as 
the Tournament." (p. 13). That was certainly the situation in 1963: Roy Strong had 
just submitted his dissertation to the University of London and Sydney Anglo had 
just begun to publish College of Arms' records of tournaments, so that apart from 
Frances Yates' influential article, "Elizabethan Chivalry: The Romance of the 
Accession Day Tilts", Wickham had only the impressionistic overviews of R.C. 
Clephan {The Tournament; Its Periods and Phases [1919]) and Francis Henry 
Cripps-Day {The History of the Tournament in England and in France [1918]) to 
go on. What was needed was a comprehensive account of the development of the 
tournament in England, and that need remained despite distinguished studies of the 
Great Tournament Roll of Westminster, the Burgundian origins of Tudor spectacle, 
and the importance of tiltyard entertainments to the cult of Elizabeth. With the 
publication of Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments, Alan Young has met this 
longstanding need - a surprising one too when one thinks that Peele, Sidney, 
Shakespeare, and Jonson wrote for tournaments, that noblemen such as Essex, 
Cumberland, Windsor, and Sussex commissioned paintings of themselves in tilting 
gear, and that money lavished upon the tournament by Tudor and Stuart monarchs 
"far surpassed that spent on disguisings, pageants, masques and plays ..." (p.7). 

As one would expect of a book published by George Philip, a house best known 
for atlases, Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments is a handsome volume, richly 
illustrated. As one might also expect, it is not an altogether scholarly book. There 
is neither a bibliography nor a list of illustrations specifying their original contexts 
and dates. The terminology, methods of analysis, and chronological structure (that 
of the book as a whole and of its various chapters) make the book accessible to an 
audience much wider than that schooled in inter-textuality, cultural inscriptions, 
methodological self-reflexiveness, and the like. Presumably the same attempt to 
reach a broad spectrum of readers lies behind the inclusion of some illustrations that 
have been frequently reproduced and shed little light on tournaments per se, such 
as Sittow's portrait of Henry VII (his lips pursed, his parsimonious eyes smiling) 
with a caption which includes the commonplace note that "Henry VII united the 



330 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Houses of York and Lancaster by marrying Elizabeth of York." (p.24) By no means 
major flaws, these "unscholarly" features of Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments 
represent an underistandable compromise rather than careless or incomplete 
research. 

Indeed, Alan Young's scholarship is impressive, particularly in the comprehens- 
ive examination of the primary sources of information about his subject. The 
appendix to the book, "A Calendar of Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments", 
demonstrates best the thoroughness of his research. Listing the principal documen- 
tary sources for every tournament, this calendar supplements, corrects, and extends 
to 1626 - two years beyond the accepted date of the last English Renaissance tilt - 
the data in "A Preliminary Checklist of Tudor and Stuart Entertainments" which has 
been appearing in Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama. The fruits of the 
search for all the primary evidence of tournaments can also be seen in the 
illustrations, which include a photograph of one of the two surviving impresa 
shields, reproductions of drawings from hitherto unpublished College of Arms' 
manuscripts, and the invaluable picture of Queen Elizabeth watching knights tilting, 
tourneying, and fighting at barriers, a picture found in a unique illuminated manu- 
script in a private collection. The glossary of the technical terminology of martial 
sports reveals how carefully Young has studied the documents, for the individual 
entries, many of which are complemented by photographs of armour or drawings 
of tiltyard scenes elsewhere in the volume, are informed by an alertness to the 
various senses of the terms as used a wide range of sources. 

Neither Young's understanding of the origins and development of the tournament 
in the Renaissance nor his interpretation of its use as an instrument of "prestige 
propaganda" (p. 43) are radically new. He shows how several elements combined 
to aggrandize the prestige of the monarch: the magnificent buildings in which 
tiltyards were situated, the rich accoutrements of the royal viewing stands, the array 
of foreign ambassadors and noble attendants vying for positions close to the king 
or queen, and, of course, the ritual of loyal service acted out in the lists. Tudor and 
Stuart monarchs used these complex events for various purposes depending on the 
personality of each ruler and the peculiar conditions of his or her reign. Whereas 
Henry VII needed above all to secure his authority at home (and used tournaments 
to this end), his son strove to impress foreign rulers with his might and his 
magnificence. Whereas Elizabeth I, a skilled performer of the roles prescribed for 
her ritual or pageantry, was ready to play the lady of the tournament. King James 
reluctantly engaged in public spectacles, as a result of which attitude Prince Henry 
became the central figure of a nascent chivalric cult. Generally however, tourna- 
ments helped these monarchs consolidate their power within England, enhance their 
reputations abroad, and confirm the contemporary ideal of social order. If these ends 
were to be achieved, numerous practical matters had to be taken care of, matters 
which receive close attention for the first time in Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments. 
Young devotes over a third of the book to the financing of tournaments, the 
development of armour and weaponry, the activities of various government offices. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 331 

the design of tiltyards s6 that they became "noble theatres", and other practical 
aspects of staging the events. Doing so helps correct the mistaken impression that 
tournaments, like Stuart masques, were exclusive court spectacles. As Young says 
when concluding his discussion of arrangements for audiences in the tiltyard, "a 
tournament was both a calculated display of magnificence and a powerful demon- 
stration, both literally and figuratively, of the hierarchical structure of the body 
politic, from the single figure of royalty in the most central and most lavishly 
appointed viewing place, flanked by the ranks of the nobility and civic officials, to 
the thousands of commoners in their own stands ... Little wonder, then, that 
Elizabeth and James each chose the tournament as the chief medium for the annual 
celebration of their respective accessions." (p. 90) The nature and the functions of 
tournaments were further complicated by the combatants as the later chapters on 
impresa, tiltyard speeches, and role-playing make clear. Bearing the costs (ulti- 
mately prohibitive) of these and other aspects of the tournament, ambitious courtiers 
like Sir Philip Sidney or the Earl of Essex exploited the tiltyard entertainment as a 
privileged meeting place with the monarch in order to advance their personal and 
political causes. 

The epilogue of Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments balances the brief opening 
account of the English and European origins of the tournament in the Middle Ages 
by noting the major revivals of the tournament in the nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries. What began as a bloody free-for-all valued "for the financial profit to be 
derived from ransom and booty" (p. 13) survives today as a colourful curiosity under 
the auspices of Max Diamond, "The Black Gauntlet", ex-stuntman and founder of 
the Jousting Association. But the epilogue serves a more important purpose; it 
highlights a crucial, unifying theme of the volume as a whole by tracing the 
persistence of the chivalric values of which tournaments were such a vivid, powerful 
embodiment. The magnificent public spectacles which thousands attended and on 
which thousands were spent for the sake of "prestige propaganda" ceased when 
Charles I turned his back on the tournament and settled down within the closed 
circle of the court masque. The chivalric values associated with martial sports, 
anachronistic even in the Renaissance, have remained alive, however, to help 
rationalize oppressive social arrangements and real war efforts. 

Under the Tudors and the first two Stuart kings of England, the tournament was 
a complex, powerful form of art. To understand individual tiltyard entertainments, 
we need biographical information about the participants and knowledge of the 
historical conditions of the realm. We need to decode cryptic impresa and heraldic 
trappings, and to analyze the interplay among the ceremonial, pageantic, dramatic, 
and athletic features of the tournament. Nor is it enough to focus on individual 
events, for participants created roles for themselves that they played over many 
years. Alan Young's Tudor and Jacobean Tournaments establishes this complexity 
and helps us come to terms with it. I am glad to have a copy of the book at hand, 
not only because it gives back to the tournament "its due place within the rich and 
varied fabric to Tudor and Jacobean court pageantry" (p. 7), but also because, like 



332 / Renaissance and Reformation 

the best comprehensive histories, it is not the final word on the subject but a solid 
foundation for further work. 

C.E. MCGEE, St. Jerome's College, University of Waterloo 



François Berriot. Exposicions et significations des songes et Les songes Daniel 
(Manuscrits français de la Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris et de la 
Staatsbibliothek de Berlin, XlVe, XVe etXVIe siècles). Travaux d'Humanisme et 
Renaissance, Genève, Droz, 1989, Pp. 369. 

Le texte principal procuré par François Berriot, soit "L'exposition des songes," 
intéresse l'histoire de l'humanisme et de la Renaissance par un manuscrit grec de 
la Bibliothèque Nationale transcrit au milieu du seizième siècle, et trois traductions 
imprimées, l'une en italien de 1546, l'autre en latin de 1577 et la troisième en 
français de 1581. Mais cet ouvrage byzantin du dizième siècle est connu dès le 
douzième siècle et jusqu'au quinzième par des traductions latines et françaises. Il 
a été cité et utilisé par Jérôme Cardan dans son traité de 1562 et continuera d'être 
édité ou traduit au dix-septième siècle. 

L'original, intitulé Achmetis oneirocriticon, a pour auteur un chrétien de Con- 
stantinople qui s'inspire de traités arabes, sans doute par l'intermédiaire d'une 
traduction syriaque dont la British Library possède un manuscrit. C'est un ouvrage 
de littérature savante qui s'adresse à un public choisi. Mais "c'est seulement vers 
1165, sous le règne de l'empereur éclairé Manuel Comnène, qu'un 'infimus 
clericus' de sa cour, Pascalis Romanus, Grec né à Rome ou Romain installé à 
Byzance, [ ... ] adopte le traité byzantin en latin [ ... ] sur une version très abrégée. 
Il en est de même du De interpretatione somniorum, traduction que Leo Tuscus 
[ ... ] réalise vers 1175 ou 1176, à la demande de Manuel Comnène dont il est le 
collaborateur officiel" (pp. 34-37). C'est sur une des copies latines de la traduction 
de Leo Tuscus - une quinzaine - que sont composées les premières versions 
françaises. Ce sont ces dernières que François Berriot a choisi d'utiliser pour établir 
son texte, à savoir: 

1) VExposicion des Songes (traduction anglo-normande du début du quatorzième 
siècle qui occupe les folios 232 à 281 b du manuscrit 968Q de la Staatsbibliothek 
Preussicher Kulturbesitz de Berlin, et qui a été effectuée pour 'Dame Alice de 
Couty,' laquelle y a fourni des variantes (B); 

2) la version du ms fr. 24432 de la Bibliothèque Nationale (folios 281 V), écrit 
après 1338, version incomplète qui a également fourni des variantes (P) aux 66 
premiers chapitres du suivant; 

3) VExposicion et significacion des songes contenue aux folios 55 v° - 105 v° 
du ms fr. 1317 de la Bibliothèque Nationale, traduite en 1396 par "Frère Nicole 
Saoul, autrement dit de Saint Marcel, de l'ordre de Nostre Dame du Carme à Paris". 



Renaissance et Réforme / 333 

Cette traduction a été exécutée sur une version très abrégée du De interpretatione 
somniorum de Leo Tuscus, analogue à celle du ms latin 337 de la Bibliothèque 
Inguimbertine de Carpentras (C) dont les leçons ont été également recueillies. C'est 
le ms fr. 1317 qui a servi à François Berriot de texte de base, auquel il a adjoint les 
variantes des mss cités ci-dessus, ainsi que celles de l'édition de Denis Duval, Paris, 
1581 (D), et de Nicolas Rigault, Paris, 1603 (R). Ce ms a appartenu à Louis de 
Luxembourg, connétable de France, mort sur l'échafaud en 1475, et à sa femme 
Jeanne, morte en 1466. 

Dans l'édition de François Berriot, les 152 chapitres de VExposicion des Songes 
occupent les pages 57 à 297 du volume. Les quatre versions des Songes Daniel le 
Prophète, elles, qui constituent l'appendice II, occupent seulement les pages 303 à 
326. C'est qu'il s'agit d'un ouvrage tout différent, une Clé des Songes destinée à 
un public populaire (littérature florissante à l'époque byzantine), même si 
VExposicion y a également puisé. Car la plus ancienne de ces Clés, le Pseudo-Dan- 
iel, remonte sans doute au cinquième siècle et a été traduite en latin vers le septième 
sous le titre de Somniale Danielis. "La bibliothèque d'Upsala en conserve un 
manuscrit du IXe siècle; en France, [ ... ] le Paris lat. 18415 date seulement du Xir 
siècle. [ . . . ] La version française en prose la plus ancienne daterait du Xlir siècle." 
Les traductions imprimées se succèdent à partir de 1470 et les copies jusqu'au 
dix-septième siècle. Par exemple, les Songes Daniel le prophète translatez de latin 
en français de Jean Trepel, goth., s.l.n.d. (Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Paris) ou La 
phisionomie des songes et visions fantastiques des personnes ... de Jean Thibault, 
astrologue de François 1^^ Lyon, s.d., chez Jean Moderne. Ce sont ces quatre 
versions manuscrites de ces traductions que publie François Berriot: une du 
treizième siècle, une du début du quatorzième siècle, une copie de la fin du seizième 
siècle et une autre du dix-septième siècle. 

Nous avons essayé ci-dessus d'énoncer clairement les données du problème et 
nous poursuivrons maintenant par quelques remarques sur l'établissement du texte. 
En plusieurs endroits, il nous a semblé que des passages, lors de la transmission de 
tel ou tel manuscrit, au cours d'une longue histoire d'adaptations, avaient dû être 
déplacés. Par exemple, au chapitre III: "De lire en livre," les troisième et quatrième 
paragraphes se rapportent au chapitre XIV: "De condre et rere le chief;" au chapitre 
XLVIII: "De la rougolle," nous trouvons le début d'un autre chapitre, "Des 
membres." L'histoire, rapportée au chapitre LXIII: "De vomir," est en rapport avec 
le chapitre LXVIII: "Des prestres." 

Les variantes en bas de page sont en réalité les leçons des autres versions 
manuscrites citées (dont une latine) et constituent en fait un véritable intertexte qui 
vient parfois s'ajouter ou se substituer au texte édité. Parmi ces versions, celle du 
ms fr. 24432 de la Bibliothèque Nationale (P), le plus ancien (après 1338) est aussi 
celui dont la langue est la plus pure - du francien sans aucun doute. On ne peut en 
dire autant de celle de Frère Nicole Saoul, fortement marquée de picardismes. Nous 
avons relevé quelques fautes: ''Sa femme" pour "Se femme," (p. 143, 1. 30), par 
exemple. 



334 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Le glossaire placé à la fin du volume est très utile, même s'il subsiste plusieurs 
points d'interrogation. L'auteur n'a pas indiqué quels dictionnaires il avait utilisés. 
La traduction en français moderne des mots difficiles ou obscurs aurait été encore 
plus utile au lecteur s'il l'avait trouvée en bas de page, accompagnée de quelques 
notes explicatives. 

Venons-en au texte lui-même de VExposicion des Songes, dont le commentaire 
- surtout en ce qui concerne les sources - est fait longuement et par ordre 
chronologique, dans l'introduction générale: l'oniromancie égyptienne, les clés des 
songes mésopotamiennes, la tradition judaïque, etc. L'oeuvre elle-même est-elle 
d'un grand intérêt pour une étude de l'imaginaire? L'ensemble donne l'impression 
d'une vaste compilation ordonnée, mais d'une interprétation abstraite et arbitraire 
qui concerne surtout les rapports sociaux, économiques et hiérarchiques. L'index 
donne une idée des objets prétendument vus en songe, mais non de leur significa- 
tion, presque toujours liée aux notions évoquées plus haut. C'est pourquoi il est 
permis de préférer à cette somme encyclopédique les brèves clés des songes citées 
en appendice, comme plus représentatives d'un genre éminemment populaire dont 
on aimerait suivre la trace dans la production imprimée jusque dans la littérature de 
colportage, assurément. Mais c'est là un autre travail. 

En attendant, il faut féliciter François Berriot pour l'ampleur de la tâche qu'il a 
menée à bien et le remercier d'avoir mis à la portée du public savant des textes, 
manuscrits pour la plupart, qui intéressent la littérature comparée, l'histoire des 
mentalités et des civillisations, la littérature médiévale et l'histoire de la littérature 
du seizième siècle. Nul doute que d'autres chercheurs, à leur tour, se serviront des 
textes établis avec autant de soin comme matière première de leurs propres travaux. 

JACQUES CHOCHEYRAS, Université Stendhal - Grenoble III 



Stan A.E. Mendyk. 'Speculum Britanniae'. Regional Study, Antiquarianism, and 
Science in Britain to 1700. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989. 

In 'Speculum Britanniae' . Regional Study, Antiquarianism, and Science in Britain 
to 1700, a book which grew out of his Ph.D. dissertation, Stan Mendyk has created 
- as he states - a work of synthesis. Relying for the most part on materials in print 
and not on unpublished archives he has looked at several generations of 
chorographers and has tried to show the continuity in the evolution from antiquary 
to virtuoso. Towards the end of the book he cites Herbert Butterfield's observation 
concerning the need to move beyond the examination of the work of "the few men 
of supreme genius" in order to understand the history of science and this becomes 
his own methodology. Beginning with John Leland, he traces the antiquarian 
thought of major and minor figures right up to the beginning of the eighteenth 
century when John Morton's The Natural History of Northamptonshire was pub- 
lished. Francis Bacon figures prominently in this development: after his seminal 



Renaissance et Réforme / 335 

work regional study came to require "a critical use of authorities" and ultimately 
the virtuoso would use "historical and natural materials and scientific methods to 
make accurate statements of fact about both past and present". In some sense, too, 
Mendyk sees the later work as a culmination of Leland's original vision and gives 
Joseph Levine the final word on the topic: "Looking back across the two centuries 
that separated [George] Hickes [the Saxonist] and his friends from John Leland and 
his successors, one can see a single great antiquarian dream being slowly realized." 

As he makes clear from the very beginning Mendyk wishes to "bring to light" (a 
metaphor borrowed - consciously? - from Leland and Bale) individual writers and 
their achievements. His framework is straightforwardly chronological and we move 
through the centuries from individual to individual. There are, however, problems 
with this method of presentation. Most obviously, no single person is studied in any 
depth. Mendyk does not add to our knowledge of Leland, say, and he does not bring 
the most recent scholarship to bear in his discussion. Instead we have a series of 
somewhat repetitive potted histories - updated versions of Dictionary of National 
Biography entries - which become more and more difficult to absorb as one goes 
along. Even more worrisome are the considerable misunderstandings of the infor- 
mation which is already well known, as when (p. 45) Mendyk confuses Leland's 
Itinerary and his 'New Year's Gift' of 1546/47. Or when he does not seem to be 
aware that the most important Commentarii de Scriptoribus Britannicis was in fact 
more or less completed in Leland's lifetime and subsequently published in the 
eighteenth century. Very often we seem to slip from vague hypothesis - Tristram 
Risdon according to the Dictionary of National Biography was "apparently a 
Puritan" - to accepted fact: Risdon, we are now told (without any supporting 
evidence) "illustrates the interest of Puritan gentry in chorography." As so often 
happens when one is summarizing and giving synopses Mendyk drifts into unex- 
amined platitudes: although some of John Norden's devotional books "achieved 
considerable popular appeal", Mendyk affirms, "his career as a religious author 
proved to be singularly unsuccessful." Unsuccessful from whose perspective? And 
in what way? Is not popularity an acknowledged mark of success? 

Interestingly, the very narrative context, its division into neatly defined vitae, 
tends to undermine the continuity Mendyk is trying to establish. William Burton's 
possession of Leland's papers is a major factor behind the composition of his 
Description of Leicester Shire (Leland's ancestral county like Burton's): the story 
of these papers illustrates graphically, moreover, the almost apostolic succession at 
the heart of the antiquarian movement and the very small circle of individuals 
involved from generation to generation. And yet in Mendyk's narrative this vital 
link is barely even mentioned and certainly not seen in the paradigmatic light it 
deserves. 

Mendyk's biographical choices seem somewhat arbitrary since he gives himself 
such a wide range of possibilities: he restricts himself neither to the famous nor to 
the obscure, nor to a single geographical area nor to a single century. If Leland is 
to be studied in depth, for example, then why not Cotton or Drayton. In the end one 



336 / Renaissance and Reformation 

comes to feel the choices are hit or miss and that any pattern which emerges is a 
matter more of chance than of fact. Different individuals, one suspects, might have 
led to different conclusions. 

It is not easy to work out the principles behind footnotes and bibliography. Quite 
rightly Mendyk cites Joseph M. Levine and yet the book he seems most to admire 
- Levine 's Humanism and History. Origins of Modern English Historiography - 
never makes it to the bibliography (and appears to remain only partially cited: I 
could never find the date and place of publication nor a full title for that matter) 
whereas his earlier Dr Woodward's Shield and his unpublished Ph.D. dissertation 
do appear. And why is Oruch's work, so strongly emphasized in the text, excluded? 
Some primary sources appear in the bibliography and others do not. Amongst those 
which do there is considerable confusion about choices of editions: why, for 
example, do we have the 1534 edition of Polydore Vergil rather than the revised 
edition of 1546 or the third of 1555? In a book about and for the antiquary - "a man 
strangely thrifty of Time past" - one might expect particular care about accuracy 
and yet the notes and bibliography are far from punctilious: Leland is linked with 
Henry VII in Clarke's article, to give one fine bit of anachronism, and Geoffrey of 
Monmouth wrote a "Historia regnum Britanniae". In the text itself 1 enjoyed, inter 
alia, the reference to "other ancient Egyptian priests or barbs". 

All in all this is a somewhat superficial book, one not carefully researched. One 
has the sense that by the time it actually came to press the author had lost some of 
his initial enthusiasm and that the final product is more a labour that the kind of 
labour of love Mendyk has been describing in the work of the chorographers 
themselves. 

JAMES P. CARLEY, York University 



Jasper Ridley. Elizabeth I, the Shrewdness of Virtue. New York: Fromm Interna- 
tional, 1989. Pp. xi, 391. Christopher Haigh. Elizabeth I. London and New York: 
Longman Ltd., 1988. Pp. vii, 198. 

Studies of many historical figures are called forth by anniversaries of birth and 
death, but for Elizabeth I as for Napolean the season remains perpetual. Ironically, 
one is hard pressed to identify a standard work in this burgeoning genre since J.E. 
Neale's now outdated classic of the 1930s. Commercially successful efforts by such 
non-academics as Elizabeth Jenkins, Edith Sitwell and Carolly Erickson have not 
altogether met the standards of serious scholarship, while Paul Johnson's effort of 
1974 has been rendered questionable on a number of issus by more recent scholar- 
ship. The field thus seems wide open for a new and definitive study, one which 
would incorporate important recent research and present a new perspective of its 
own. 



Renaissance et Réforme / 337 

The two new works at hand, by the professional biographer Jasper Ridley and the 
Oxford historian Christopher Haigh, hold great promise. After all, Ridley has 
already published seven historical biographies, four of them on figures in the Tudor 
period, while Haigh has written widely and convincingly on various aspects of 
Tudor politics and religion. It is thus most disappointing to find that neither of these 
efforts entirely fits the bill. 

The thrust of Ridley's contribution lies more in placing new interpretations on 
familiar material than in drawing upon new sources themselves. Though he does 
use some unpublished material, especially on Ireland, he relies principally upon 
published primary and secondary sources. The resulting effort shows a well-mean- 
ing, conscientious, even devout Queen, sometimes overwhelmed by events, and 
often indecisive. Yet Ridley's Elizabeth remained in charge, and it was she and not 
her ministers - talented as Ridley construes them to have been - who made the 
crucial decisions and who must thus be credited with their success or failure. Though 
this picture usefully veers away from Neale's hagiography and may yet prove closer 
to the mark than many, it is difficult to be convinced by arguments which are too 
often uninformed of the most important of recent scholarship. One looks in vain for 
the influence of Norman Jones's work on the Settlement of Religion, of Winthrop 
Hudson and others on factions at court, on Michael Graves and others on Elizabe- 
than parliaments, of Peter Lake and the most recent of Patrick Collinson's important 
works on Puritans, or even Wallace MacCaffrey's not so recent eye for detail in 
specific issues. In short, Ridley has defined the boundaries of his subject so narrowly 
as to neglect the complexity of the events and ideas which matter: it is, if not Hamlet 
without the Prince, then perhaps the Prince without the play. 

From Haigh, whose accomplishments as a Tudor specialist are legion and 
impressive, one expects more, and indeed neither the incorporation of recent 
scholarship nor the presentation of a new and challenging interpretation are far to 
seek. One may not compare the two too strictly, for Haigh has not set out to write 
a biography at all. This is the second volume to have come forth in Longman's new 
and promising 'Profiles in Power' series, in which concise and analytic books on 
specific political careers are the objective. Thus Haigh ignores the more personal 
aspects of the Queen's life, save those of political import, to concentrate on her 
office and use of power. 

Here we have a number of new hypotheses, many forged by an historian writing 
in the age of both Margaret Thatcher and her public relations men, Saatchi and 
Saatchi. Elizabeth remained pre-occupied with public imagery to disguise her faults 
as queen and her inescapable problems as a woman ruler. The last point is especially 
clear to Haigh. It was difficult for either Elizabeth herself or her contemporaries to 
escape the fact of her womanhood and - despite the reality of other female rulers 
of that age - the incongruity of a woman ruler in the sixteenth century. This 
weakness, as Haigh sees it, accounted for Elizabeth finding herself too often at the 
mercy of the disparate political forces around her, rather than, as Neale saw it, in 
command of them. Though she bullied the Church well enough, she was bullied or 



338 / Renaissance and Reformation 

manipulated in turn by many other groups: the aristocracy, whose support she still 
required; factions amongst her courtiers and concillors; and the commanders of her 
military. Haigh's Elizabeth experienced constant fear of revolt and disrespect, and 
thus relied on a 'rule by illusion'. Yet in the end, she was a failure, dying unloved 
and unlamented, victimized by her sex. 

This is, of course, as far from Neale's Queen as one could get, and pretty far from 
Ridley's too. Not only isn't Haigh writing of Gloriana, but he also refuses to accept 
the very things Neale saw as most important in her reign: the Parliament, which 
Haigh disparages as decreasingly important; the famed concillors, whom he sees as 
manipulative and squabbling second raters; and the military achievements, which 
he dismisses almost completely. 

This is revisionism in the extreme and it offers much to dwell on and much to 
celebrate. The departure from the shibboleths of earlier scholarship is most wel- 
come, though no longer by now especially novel, and the emphasis on the sexual 
issue marks a particularly important milestone in mainstream Elizabethan scholar- 
ship. Yet overall, one is put off by the breezy self-assurance of tone and more deeply 
troubled by the constant tendency to argue with perfect righteousness well beyond 
any evidence placed before us: a tendency, in fact, reminiscent of Neale himself. 
Comments on the gender issue aptly illustrate both these objections. Chapters begin, 
in the trendiest of terms, with the announcement of stereotypes with which her 
contemporaries, at least in Haigh's eyes, perceived their Queen: "a pushy woman" 
(p. 27); "a show-off and dressed to kill", (p. 86); 'a mother, . . . and aunt, ... a nagging 
wife, ... a seductress ...", (p. 107). These, of course, arejust the tags likely to appeal 
to the broader reading public, but as mere labels it is hard to see that they get us 
very far in understanding Elizabeth or perceptions of her by her contemporaries. 
Fuller support for such images would turn this into a scholarly argument, but we 
never quite reach that level of discourse. Indeed, though we should be ever in his 
debt at least for raising the issue, the extent to which Haigh has informed himself 
of serious feminist scholarship on the subject seems limited to a single essay in 
Feminist Review cited in the Bibliographic Essay at the end. 

Much of the disappointment here stems from the sense that Haigh could do better, 
and has. The best recent guide to the rapidly unfolding scholarship on the Elizabe- 
than period remains the collection of essays which Haigh himself edited as The 
Reign of Elizabeth (1985): a first rate collection of shrewd, balanced and judicious 
essays, including Haigh's own, plus his fine introduction. The current volume stands 
small beside the former, and for our new standard treatment of Elizabeth herself we 
must still wait. 

ROBERT TITTLER, Concordia University 



Renaissance et Réforme / 339 

Leonard Mustazza. "Such Prompt Eloquence: " Language as Agency and Char- 
acter in Milton's Epies. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1988. Pp xii, 173. 

God Almighty was no rhetorician: Satan it was who created persuasive political 
rhetoric. Here Leonard Mustazza begins his exploration of character in Milton's 
epics as it is manifested in discourse, spoken or thought. "No mean feat," he 
comments on Satan's achievement (19), though some might feel that the misappro- 
priation of language to move others to damnation is the archetypal meanness. His 
analysis of language usefully explores the strategies used by the characters in 
various states: innocent, sinful, remorseful, reprobate. Chapters on Satan's rhetoric 
as he tempts the angels and then Adam and Eve are followed by an examination of 
human language before and after the Fall. "Divine" language includes the speech 
of the angels, affable Raphael and understandably stern Michael. One of the best 
chapters is on language as a weapon in Christ's duel not of arms in Paradise 
Regained. 

The discussion is in a traditional, conservative idiom, marked at its best moments 
by a practical common sense. No dragon's teeth here of signifiers and différance, 
of trendy new doublets, fresh minted affixes and intrusive solidi. Some readers will 
be relieved. Others will feel that at least a dimension is missing in a discussion of 
language that ignores contemporary theorists' focus on how words mean what they 
do, how texts speak to texts, how authorial and contextual ideologies frame the 
discourse of fictional characters. Mustazza accepts status of text and authority of 
author under an older covenant, as it were. Within the limits suggested, he quotes 
sensitively from some of the best critical work directed at his theme, but has a 
slightly irritating habit of endorsing quoted opinion as "apt", "valid" or "correct". 

His own style is a little lumpy at times. He speaks of scenes that "represent polar 
boundaries in Edenic language use" (90), calls Paradise Lost "chnsiological in perspec- 
tive" (127) and analyses the "preseparation conversation" of Adam and Eve (88). More 
serious is his occasional insensitivity to the levels of meaning in the poet's language. 
When Adam chooses the same "lot" as Eve, "Certain to undergo like doom", Mustazza 
reads "doom" as "payment", the anticipation of which makes Adam's choice the sadder 
(95). But "doom" suggests that besides knowing that judgment will follow, Adam is 
becoming infected with a diabolic ideology which interprets events in terms of fate, 
denying the absolute power of divine will. Distempered, fallen Eve who speaks of her 
"lot" already believes in "fate". Elsewhere, when Mustazza discussed Satan's specula- 
tion about obtaining "By act of grace my former state", he notes Satan's ignorance of 
how God's grace operates (52). However, he does not notice that the phrase is also 
beautifully in character because it is exactly the dispensation an aristocratic transgressor 
might hope for when he is legally guilty but sues for a free pardon out of the grace of 
the monarch. One more example: neither Michael nor Milton use of Noah the phrase 
"perfect man" as quoted by Mustazza, nor might they consider "perfect" to be an 
adjective that permits degrees of comparison, as he does (112). One feels at times that 



340 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Milton's language has not quite yielded either its suggestive multivalency or its 
precision to this author. 

One is uneasy also about the treatment here of rhetoric, a word much mentioned. 
We are promised early that "a kind of Miltonic rhetoric" will emerge (13), but this 
seems to refer to remarks such as: "Satan invents yet another kind of language - the 
'pep-talk' " (34). Perhaps statements such as the following are the "rhetoric" the 
writer had in mind: "To illustrate the complexity of the medium, Milton moves 
quickly in this scene from Adam's inquiry into his Maker's identity (inquisitive 
language), to the Son's introduction of himself (formal language), to the interdiction 
(prohibitive language), to Adam's naming "presumption" in wishing to know more 
(exploratory, deferential language), and finally to the Son's gentle taunting of Adam 
(playful and indirectly didactic language). These last two categories are especially 
interesting. ..." (72-3). This is a shadow of a taxonomy but there is no descriptive 
elaboration within the categories. The writer seems simply uninterested in classical 
rhetoric, a lack of interest which traps him in misreadings e.g. of Satan's behaviour 
before the spoken temptation of Eve. "Each part. Motion, each act won audience 
ere the tongue": Mustazza dismisses this as clumsy "histrionics ... abusing the part 
of the orator with his serpentine meanderings" (65). Not so. The importance of 
motion and gesture, of catching the attention before the oration begins, was an 
important part of rhetoric. Satan is as accomplished a rhetorician as any "orator 
renown'd ... to some great cause addressed." Hypocrisy, "the only evil that walks 
invisible," acts convincingly not clumsily. Then there is the dream Satan induces in 
Eve with his "devilish art." It is treated as a rhetorical event: the art "can refer to 
little else besides words" (56). However, Eve is not awake as is suggested, and she 
cannot hear words. In the intertext, with other devilish figures who practise goeteia, 
is Spenser's Archimago. Archimago's evil illusions, too, are forged by night but 
with a more sinister weapon than rhetoric or a "mode of reasoning" (57). 

Mustazza has a tendency to affirm or speculate without producing evidence from 
the theological or literary context, e.g. "Does [Satan] truly believe the rebellion can 
succeed? I think he does" (26); or, "It is highly doubtful that either Satan or the 
faithful members of his following actually believe that they were self-begotten" 
(28). The discussion of the evil angel's rebellion is unconvincing. This matter is 
central to Milton's theodicy and requires scrupulous attention. God says they fell 
"self-tempted, self-depraved"; Mustazza is satisfied that "the Father's statement 
obviously cannot be taken at face value" (29). Actually, it would be safer to assume 
that God can be trusted and that when Omniscience glosses Milton's narrative, that 
the reading is correct. Christian Doctrine 1.9 confirms this. In Carey's phrase, the 
temptation is intramural. 

One last concern must be mentioned. Mustazza does not quite convince us that 
we should think in terms of the agency rather than the instrumentality of language. 
The distinctions between thoughts/words and reason/language are touched on but 
unsatisfyingly (45,85,97). He talks of the power inherent in words (19) and treats 
language as an entity in itself (29). The subject has fascinating potential but this is 



Renaissance et Réforme / 341 

not realised. The traditional model of human consciousness, rational soul with 
erected wit and infected will, not hegemonic, not an actor but an instrument in the 
drama of damnation. 

For all these reservations, there are many interesting and enriching perceptions 
in this study, beginning with analysis if Satan's "calumnious art of counterfeited 
truth". Especially useful are the survey of the nature of pre-lapsarian language and 
its post-lapsarian future (88-89), human language after the Fall (90-100), the Son's 
response to Adam (100-1 16), and the whole chapter on Paradise Regained. Leonard 
Mustazza focuses our attention on a topic of undoubted importance to readers of 
Milton and he guides us through text and critical discourse with an interesting and 
often valuable commentary. 

DEREK N. C. WOOD, St. Francis Xavier University 



Gisèle MsLthieu-CasiQWani. Agrippa d'Aubigné. Le corps deJézabel. Paris, Presses 
Universitaires de France, 1991. 

Peu de critiques étaient aussi bien placés que Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani pour 
éclairer les coulisses de ce théâtre de la cruauté qu'est l'oeuvre d'Agrippa 
d'Aubigné, pour faire sortir de leur nuit les fantômes, et quels fantômes, qui ont 
peuplé l'imaginaire de cet écrivain au tempérament "igné". En effet, Gisèle 
Mathieu-Castellani est une spécialiste de la littérature baroque et on lui doit des 
études toujours pénétrantes sur Agrippa d'Aubigné. Ce petit ouvrage appartient à 
la collection "Le Texte Rêve," dont l'objet est de remonter au coeur même des 
oeuvres, de lever le voile sur l'inconscient des auteurs grâce à une lecture attentive 
au dit et au non-dit. 

Nous avons la chance de posséder le "roman familial" d'Agrippa d'Aubigné. 
Celui-ci, en effet, a écrit Sa vie à ses enfants, qu'il a dédiée à ses trois enfants 
légitimes. Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani fait judicieusement remarquer que l'aîné des 
enfants avait été renié et que la fille, Marie, était déjà morte depuis quelques années 
quand ce testament-confession fut rédigé. Par contre, le fils naturel, son héritier 
spirituel, Nathan, est passé sous silence. Autre aberration, ce récit autobiographique 
est écrit à la troisième personne du singulier, comme si Agrippa d'Aubigné reniait 
lui-même sa filiation, comme s'il avait un compte à régler avec ses parents. 

Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani voit trois moments décisifs dans la vie d'Agrippa 
d'Aubigné. Tout d'abord sa naissance. La sortie du ventre maternel fut vécue dans 
l'imaginaire de l'auteur des Tragiques comme une malédiction gravée dans son 
prénom même. Agrippa, Aegre partus. D'une part, il se voit victime, abandonné par 
sa mère qui mourut en couches; d'autre part, il sait qu'il doit la vie à la décision des 
docteurs ou du père qui ont choisi de "tuer" la mère pour sauver le fils; le voilà du 
même coup passé du côté des bourreaux. La dialectique victime/bourreau, 
accusé/accusateur, et le renversement des rôles qui a été maintes fois relevé auraient 



342 / Renaissance and Reformation 

leur source dans cette naissance traumatique. Dans L'Hécatombe, la maîtresse, 
bourreau du coeur, est accusée par l'amant mal-aimé qui, victime, en appelle à la 
vengeance des dieux. Dans Les tragiques, les martyrs protestants, victimes des 
mauvais juges, se portent comme témoins et accusateurs devant le tribunal céleste 
qui condamnera les juges pervers, et les premières victimes deviendront les 
bienheureux au ciel. Le discours judiciaire chez Agrippa d'Aubigné ne relève pas 
de la rhétorique seule, mais il est l'expression d'une nécessité interne: victime d'un 
contrat qui a été rompu à la naissance, il doit en même temps se justifier. 

Sa place dans le monde était d'autant plus précaire qu'il s'est vu expulsé du logis 
maternel par sa belle-mère. Victime d'une marâtre. Agrippa a toujours eu la 
nostalgie du sein maternel dont il a été sevré. Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani attribue 
d'une façon convaincante à ce double sentiment la double figure obsédante de la 
mère dans Les tragiques. Nous trouvons, en effet, la mauvaise mère, la mère 
castratrice, prête à dévorer ses enfants, et qui par le juste retour des choses sera 
dévorée par les chiens comme Jézabel. Catherine de médicis vue comme 
l'incarnation contemporaine de la marâtre. Mais à côté de ce monstre, on trouve 
aussi l'image attentrissante de la mère nourricière qui malheureusement par la faute 
du mauvais fils, Cain ou Esau, voit son lait tarir. 

Dans le récit autobiographique, l'auteur de cette remarquable étude relève une 
deuxième scène qui colorera la vie amoureuse d 'Agrippa d'Aubigné. C'est une 
scène d'hallucination auditive et visuelle que vécut le petit Agrippa, âgé alors de 
six ans. Il entendit et vit s'approcher de son lit une femme blanche qui disparut après 
lui avoir donné un baiser de glace: blancheur et froideur marqueront à jamais 
l'érotisme de l'auteur du Printemps. C'était inscrit dans son destin qu'il aimât une 
déesse chaste, et que sa maîtresse eût pour nom Diane ne faisait que confirmer cette 
destinée. Dans Le printemps, Diane apparaît aussi sous les traits plus effrayants de 
Diane-Lune et de Diane-Hécate. A cette dernière, il apporte en sacrifice ses cent 
sonnets, son Hécatombe, sacrifice destiné à apaiser la cruelle déesse. Gisèle 
Mathieu-Castellani fait remarquer que le sacrifice qui s'inscrit dans la structure de 
l'échange est "l'une des modalités, la plus dramatique, la plus efficace, du contrat 
qui lie deux parties". Elle avait déjà montré plus tôt ce thème d' ob -ligation, qui 
parcourt toute l'oeuvre d'Agrippa dans un article, "Le contrat et le sacrifice dans la 
poétique d'Aubigné" {Renaissance et Réforme, février 1987). 

Enfin le troisième tableau qui scellera à jamais le devenir d'Agrippa d'Aubigné: 
devant le château d'Amboise, le serment arraché sous menace de malédiction de 
venger les suppliciés d'Amboise. Le fils est donc lié par un contrat pervers à 
répondre à la violence par la violence. Rien d'étonnant donc que l'écriture 
d'Agrippa d'Aubigné, même dans son canzoniere, soit sous le signe de la violence. 

Ce petit livre nous mène au coeur même du mystère de l'écriture d'Agrippa 
d'Aubigné. En mettant en évidence les thèmes récurrents de contrat et de sacrifice, 
ainsi que les images obsédantes du sein maternel, Mathieu-Castellani montre la 
cohérence et la polysémie d'une écriture de haine et d'amour qui met en scène Eros 



Renaissance et Réforme / 343 



et Thanatos. Ce livre est une invitation à lire ou à relire d'Aubigné; à cause de sa 
pénétration et de sa richesse, aucun lecteur sérieux du poète ne pourra s'en passer. 

SIMONE MASER, Université d'Ottawa 



J. H. Elliott. The Count Duke ofOlivares: The Statesman in an Age of Decline. 
New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986. Pp. xxviii, 733. 

in 1621 the Count-Duke of Olivares emerged as the dominant figure in the Spanish 
court and government upon the accession of Philip IV (1621-1665) to the throne. 
As the royal favourite {valida) of the young king, Olivares acquired power intent 
upon introducing fiscal, administrative and political reform into a creaking imperial 
structure beset by a multitude of problems at home and abroad. The optimism 
generated in the early years of his rule had long since vanished by 1643 when 
Olivares was driven from power as the monarchy staggered under the burden of 
military defeat at the hands of the French and the Dutch, revolts within the monarchy 
in Catalonia and Portugal, and the crushing weight of taxation. 

J. H. Elliott has written an exhaustive account of how this intelligent and 
extraordinarily hard-working figure came undone, his great foreign and domestic 
projects brought to ruin. The author pays due attention to the economic and political 
obstacles in the way of anyone exercising effective power over the Spanish monar- 
chy during the seventeenth century. And he addresses with admirable clarity the 
complex diplomatic history of the times with particular attention being devoted to 
the monarchy's relations with the Dutch, the French and the Austrian Hapsburgs. 
Yet when all is said and done, this is the story of a personal failure of enormous and 
heroic proportions. It is a story of elaborate foreign policy schemes designed to 
preserve the hegemony of both Spanish and Austrian Hapsburgs before threats from 
the Dutch, the French and the Protestant princes of central Europe. It is also a tale 
of fundamental miscalculations, such as the refusal to come to terms with the Dutch 
in the late 1620s, and the decision to commit Spain militarily in the struggle over 
the Mantuan succession, thereby bringing about a French intervention that would 
bring disaster in its wake. At home, Olivares, beset by a perpetual financial crisis 
produced by Spanish military commitments abroad, misread the deeply held resent- 
ments of Portugal and Catalonia at Castillan domination. 

Elliott argues that in the end Olivares' inability "to take clean, sharp decisions, 
without accompanying them with qualifying formulas and subsidiary purposes" 
(p. 587) frustrated his elaborately conceived plans and strategies. Olivares appears, 
indeed, as a tragic figure who worked ceaselessly at his desk on the king's business, 
who saw Spain called to fulfill its glorious imperial destiny in Europe on behalf of 
itself and Catholicism, and who bore the disasters that rained down upon the realm 
beginning in the mid- 1630s with stoic resignation. This is a story well and objec- 
tively told. At its end, the reader instinctively feels sympathy for the man who 



344 / Renaissance and Reformation 

struggled mightily to do for the Spanish monarchy what he believed was in its best 
interests but who, instead, led it to near ruin. 

WILLIAM]. CALLAHAN, University of Toronto 



Machiavelli. The Prince. Edited by Quentin Skinner and translated by Russell 
Price. Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought. Cambridge: Cam- 
bridge University Press, 1988. Pp. xxxv, 152. Two Appendices; Two Indices. 

Quentin Skinner, Russell Price, and Cambridge University Press have all outdone 
themselves in developing this elegant translation and scholarly edition of 
Machiavelli's great classic. After commenting on their achievement I will use the 
new translation to make a point about some central themes in The Prince. 

Quentin Skinner's fine introduction sets Machiavelli in his intellectual context, 
noting his rejection of the mirror of princes literature and his break with Cicero's 
and Seneca's Utopian moralizing about power. Skinner also prepared the helpful 
bibliographical notes and a chronicle of Machiavelli's life. Price did the translation, 
annotations to the text, biographical notes on everyone mentioned in the text, and 
two appendices: one a selection of Machiavelli's letters, the other, superb explana- 
tions of the major Italian terms. All these aids, combined with the lucid, accurate 
translation make this a splendid edition (and the paperback a bargain). 

Price's translation for example renders 'principato' as 'principality', not 
'dominion' or 'despotism' (sic!), as in Rodd's 1955 effort (Chicago 1965). To show 
its quality the table below compares the original titles of Chapters VI and VII (in 
Latin) with the Price and Caponigri versions. 



Machiavelli 


Price 


Rodd 


VI De principatibus 
novis qui armis propils et 
virtute acquiruntur 


VI New principalities 
acquired by one's own 
arms and ability. 


VI The Rule of a 
Dominion Conquered by 
Battle. 


VII De principatibus 
novis qui alienis armis et 
fortuna acquiruntur. 


VII New principalities 
acquired through the 
power of others and their 
favour. 


VII Rulers by the Grace 
of Others. 



In addition Price translates the title of the climactic Chapter XXVI, "Exhortatio 
ad capessendam Italiam in libertatemque a barbaris vindicandum", thus: "Exhorta- 
tion to liberate Italy from the barbarian yoke". In contrast Caponigri termed it an 
'Envoi', putting it after an appendix with the letter to Lorenzo de Medici. These 
chapters bracket the central themes of The Prince: fortuna, vertu, the foundation of 



Renaissance et Réforme / 345 

ordine and liberta. Given their ambiguity I will use all four words in the Italian; 
each term receives illuminating commentary in Prince's vocabulary notes. 

Machiavelli's realistic approach to politics appeard modern on 'differing with the 
precepts offered by others' i.e. breaking with tradition: "The following facts may 
cause surprise," he remarked in a notable understatement (15). Later he laconically 
added a note of mild concern about the effect of his empirical and practical 
approach: "I fear that I may be thought presumptuous" (55). Machiavelli's attitude 
to tradition then was intelligently modern: don't simply accept it, learn from it. 

This attitude underlies the historical approach in each chapter of The Prince. Each 
canvasses "good examples' from 'ancient history' and 'more recent events', usually 
in that order (18, 48, 45). The ruler "should read historical works especially for the 
light they shed on eminent men" (53), that is, on the "deeds and careers" of those 
"I have proposed as exemplars" (20, 88). History shows great rulers did not trust 
merely to "luck" or "favour" (i.e. fortuna), but saw events as "opportunities" 
(Occasioni) to exercise their "ability" and "skill" (vertu). 

Vertulfortuna constitute a polar set, a dialectic whose resolution Machiavelli 
could not discern. One of vertu 's main properties is to perceive the times, forsee the 
danger and minimize risks. Half the time fortuna rules over us, Machiavelli felt, 
adding "that lets us control the other half. Here "human freedom" has its chance 
(85). But one should not mindlessly trust to "luck" (34, 22f). Although tempestu- 
ously unpredictable, like the flow of a powerful riwer, fortuna can be controlled by 
the dikes and dams which human ingenuity devises (vertu). In such passages 
Machiavelli presents freedom as an understanding of necessity, a power exercised 
in space and time. Descartes' and Kant's subsequent attempts to flee history were 
in contrast not modern, but throwbacks to Platonic idealism. Machiavelli's approach 
is new and modern, and was echoed by Vico, Hegel, Marx and Heidegger, inter 
alios. 

In an Aristotelian vein Machiavelli treats vertu like "practical knowledge" 
"consummate prudence", wisdom or good judgment (86, 82; cf."bon sens" in 
Montaigne). This requires the rare skill of discerning the changing dynamics of 
particular situations or circumstances and the times. Rulers have to learn history so 
that they can compare present situations to past analogues and try to foresee 
harbingers of future success or failure. Guicciardini echoed the sentiment: "In 
nearly all things one must make distinctions and exceptions because of ... circum- 
stances. Nor can such distinctions and exceptions be found in books; they must be 
taught by discretion" (Ricordi, C. 42). Rulers also need to be good judges of people, 
notably their advisers (80f). In sum success in handling power comes when "meth- 
ods match the circumstances" (86). Vertu means knowing when to act, when not. 

A strong but flexible resolve goes some way to control fortuna. Renaissance 
thinkers like Justus Lipsius, Montaigne, Pierre Charron, and Descartes saw such 
neo-Stoic constancy as a major ethical value (cf Skinner's Foundations of Modern 
Political Thought, 1.254; 11.278). In unstable times a ruler of vertu must "pursue his 
aims steadfastly" (81). To be considered "inconstant" is to court contempt (64). The 



346 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Ruler, that is, must be 'hard like water', and the Chinese say. It is a form of courage 
in the face of fortuna. Such steadfastness is a mean between rigid "obstinacy", in 
Guicciardini's words, and a passive trust in luck. In the blood-ridden chaos of 16th 
century Europe where states and churches tumbled like ten pins this was not a 
cynical or immoral view. 

The ruler's aim, to "maintain his power" ("mantenere lo stato"; 23,62), is not 
amoral. A ruler, he notes, must "be prepared" not only to trim his conduct to the 
"winds of fortune and changing circumstance [but also to] act immorally when 
necessary"; nonetheless "a ruler should not deviate from right conduct if possible" 
(55,62; cf 58,86,87). Guicciardini voiced a similar sentiment: "power cannot be 
wielded according to the dictates of good conscience ... except [inside] republics" 
(C. 48). Machiavelli was articulating the classic doctrine of the necessary evil. A 
harsh teaching perhaps, but in reality not far from Thomist casuistry, especially as 
applied to popes. 

Indeed Machiavelli's teaching that the prince should be more concerned about 
image, reputation and perception than reality can hardly be protested in an era when 
the ruler of the largest democratic empire of the world was a lazy, senile third rate 
actor. Moreover I for one would prefer Machiavellian vertu to the present and 
militaristic fetish for more and 'better' nuclear missiles, which exemplifies little 
appreciation of necessity or evil. 

Vertu's foresight and control of fortuna made it possible for the Ruler to 
'mantenere lo stato'. "Lo stato". Price explains, also means government, the 
political community, the state; and "mantenere" implies that time is essential to the 
state. States require "strong . . . secure and stable" foundations. Lo Stato goes beyond 
any one ruler's personal power or ambition - a point which The Discourses make 
clear. The Prince implies it through its orientation to the need to end the disorder 
and dependence of Italy. 

Ordine, Machiavelli suggested, rests on "good laws, strong arms, reliable allies 
and exemplary conduct" (23, 83). Liberta meant self-government, and emancipa- 
tion from external dominion. It is a profoundly democratic concept. Italy, The 
Prince taught, desperately needed both, Ordine and Liberta, unity and indepen- 
dence. This was to be the work of a great prince, someone like Cesare Borgia. Only 
such a virtuoso could free her from her enslavement to the papacy and threats of 
foreign invasion (Chs. XI,XXVI). He alone could make unstable, faction-ridden 
Italy over into a 'new principality' unify her and free. Hegel recognized the ethical 
import of Machiavelli's vision, partly because of its relevance to his own divided 
Germany (and, I would add, to Canada's federal/provincial bickering and colonial 
submissiveness to Washington). Given its historical setting, Hegel wrote, 
Machiavelli's vision appeared "as not merely justified but as an extremely great and 
true conception produced by a genuinely political head endowed with an intellect 
of the highest and noblest kind". 

Machiavelli's grand underlying theme then sees vertu as what the times (fortuna) 
call for if Italy is ever to become a 'new principality' based on "ordine e liberta". 



Renaissance et Réforme / 347 

This is the theme The Prince adumbrated in Chapters VI and VII. It reaches its 
climax in Chapter XXVI's address to Italy. After four hundred and fifty years his 
words still ring true: 

"Bearing in mind all the matters previously discussed, I ask myself whether ... 
there is matter that provides an opportunity for a far-seeing and able man to mould 
Italy into a form that will bring honour to him and benefit all its inhabitants ... so 
many things are propitious for a new ruler that I am not aware that there has ever 
been a more appropriate time than this" (87). 

VINCENT DI NORCIA, University of Sudbury 



Annonces / Announcements 



Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies Meeting 

The next meeting of the Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies will be held on 
May 31, June 1 and 2, 1993 at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Papers related 
to the following topics are especially welcome: Language and style in Middle 
French; Cultural encounter: 1492 and after; The question of race in the early modern 
period; Images and perceptions of Henry IV; The Jesuits Relations: A Renaissance 
text; The Middle Ages in the Renaissance; The Council of Trent. For more infor- 
mation, please contact Prof. Don Beecher, Department of English, Carleton Uni- 
versity, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada KIS 5B6. 

Congrès de la Société Canadienne d'Etudes de la Renaissance 

La Société Canadienne d'Etudes de la Renaissance tiendra son congrès annuel les 
31 mai, 1" et 2 juin 1993 à l'Université Carleton, Ottawa, Canada. Les sujets 
suivants seront abordés: Etudes de langue et de style en moyen français; La question 
de la race à la Renaissance; Les contacts culturels: 1492 et après; Images et 
perceptions d"Henri IV; Les Relations des Jésuites: un texte de la Renaissance; Le 
Moyen Age dans la Renaissance; Le Concile de Trente. Pour de plus amples 
renseignements, communiquer avec M. Don Beecher, Department of English, 
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada KIS 5B6. 

Women and Text in Pre-revolutionary France Conference 

A conference on Women and Text in Pre-revolutionary France will be held. May 
7-9, 1993 at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L3G1. For 
more information, please contact Prof. Hannah Fournier or Jean-Philippe Beaulieu, 
Department of French, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 
3G1. 

Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference 

Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies: Public Structures, shaping the 
World in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Barnard College, New York City, 
USA, December 5, 1992. For more information, please contact Prof. Catharine 



350 / Renaissance and Reformation 

Randall Coats, Department of French, Barnard College, New York, New York 
10027, USA. 

Moreana 

La revue trimestrielle Moreana consacrera un numéro spécial à V Utopie de Thomas 
More. Les auteurs sont invités à proposer leur titre et un résumé avant le 1^"^ janvier 
1993 à Elizabeth McCutcheon, Department of English, University of Hawaii, 
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA. 

Correction 

Correction: In the last issue oi Renaissance and Reformation (Vol. XV, No. 3), an 
error occurred in the article entitled "Politics of John Donne's Devotions Upon 
Emergent Occasions: or, New Questions on the New Historicism" by Mary 
Arshagouni (pp. 233-248). Note 25 on page 248 should have read '"Ibid, pp. 171,8". 
Prof. Arshagouni informed us also that her correct name is now Mary Arshagouni 
Papazian. We apologize to the author for these omissions. 



The editor welcomes submissions on any aspect of the Renaissance and the 
Reformation period. Manuscripts in duplicate should be sent to the editorial 
office: 

Renaissance and Reformation 
Department of French Studies 
University of Guelph 
Guelph, Ontario NIG 2W1 
CANADA 

Submissions in English or in French are refereed. Please follow the MLA 
Handbook, with endnotes. Copyright remains the property of individual 
contributors, but permission to reprint in whole or in part must be obtained 
from the editor. 

The journal does not accept unsolicited reviews. However, those interested in 
reviewing books should contact the Book Review Editor. 



La revue sollicite des manuscrits sur tous les aspects de la Renaissance et de la 
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Renaissance et Réforme 
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